I am wrapping up my second interim this week and will probably start another interim later this summer. What a joy to serve among the people of Christ the Servant and I am excited to see how they move forward in ministry with the leadership of their new pastor.
On Saturday, I was conducting a funeral and had a brief conversation with one of the attendees. She commented on what a lovely congregation Christ the Servant is and how I must enjoy serving there. I told her yes it was a joy. I continued, “I am the interim pastor and tomorrow the congregation will vote to call a new settled pastor.” She said, “Do you like doing interim ministry?” I responded, “Yes, I do.” Then she said, “Well, don’t you want to have your own church?”
Her question plucked a emotional string within me. At one time in my ministry I definitely wanted to have “my own church.” The thought appealed to my ego and my desire to be in charge. However, when I had the opportunity to lead a congregation, I discovered that though I liked the title and some of the challenges in leading a congregation, my heart was restless and troubled. Upon prayerful reflection, I learned that I was “over-identifying” with the congregation and tying my personal worth into the successes and missteps of the congregation. When the congregation felt good, I was good; if the congregation felt down, I was down.
When I stepped into interim ministry I was able to detach these emotional strings that I had created. As an interim pastor I have a “lighter” touch on the congregation, relying heavily on the lay leadership to guide the congregation. I am both a consultant who comes from the outside and can observe the current behavior and mission of the congregation while also being a pastor who steps into the community to shepherd them during the interim. As my trainer said, “An interim pastor has one foot in the system and one foot outside the system.” Also my heart is not as restless and my mind is more fully engaged in the community. I believe that this is my calling from God for this stage of my ministry.
I am thankful that God has provided a variety of gifts within the church. I am thankful for those pastors, deacons and lay professional who can faithfully serve many years in one congregation, guiding them into deeper levels of vital ministry. I am also thankful for the calling I now have, to guide congregations through the transitions between such settle pastors. The body of Christ needs all the gifts to be healthy and vibrant.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of services but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but the God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit in everyone. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
How are you using your spiritual gifts?