Wednesday, March 12, 2014

feelings part 2

Writing yesterday's post made me realize that I've actually been carrying around quite a bit of hurt that I wouldn't necessarily have expressed as such. Which reminded me of something I've often thought but haven't said out loud, and I'm not sure other pastors have either:

Believe it or not, your pastor has feelings, and cares a great deal, and can feel hurt and betrayed and upset and frustrated, in addition to feeling compassion and sadness and happiness and excitement.

So much of professional ministry is about hearing others' feelings, making sure everyone feels heard and supported, and offering energy for things. So much, in fact, that I think people forget that those who do this work have feelings of their own, and we are indeed affected by the things people say (to or about us, about church, about anything really) and the things people do. We pour time, energy, heart and soul, hopes and dreams into the work we believe we are called to do. We put our whole selves in. When people are unkind, it cuts, it hurts, we bleed...and we have to do most of that hurting where no one can see. We have to grieve separately, because our task is to offer comfort to others. We have to be the "bigger person" in a conflict, modeling good boundaries and healthy communication, being a non-anxious presence, which means we take our hurt or betrayal elsewhere.

Not that that's good, necessarily--people need to know that they have been hurtful. But the full expression of feelings is generally not what people expect of their pastor. They expect the full expression of the good half of feelings, and a hint of sadness if it's appropriate, but anger and hurt? not so much. We say we want authenticity, but my experience is that we only want that to a point...

So, just a PSA: we care deeply, we have feelings, and we are affected by things said and done (or not done).

**note, this is true not just of pastors but of everyone, so: how about we be kind?**

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