Monday, September 1, 2014

the poker pastor

Image from
Integrity is hard. As human beings we are good at dividing, separating, delineating, bifurcating, and complicating. It just seems easier than the other options. Dean is a bi-vocational pastor (I don't really like the term but it is the one in common use). This means that he has a full-time job as a Business Manager and he also pastors people in a faith community in our city. Basically, he has two vocations. Or does he? I believe he has one vocation or calling and that is to love God and love people. This happens at his day job, during church meetings, over lunches and dinners, when we gather with friends, praying for people, giving people rides, and working in an honest and effective manner so that his company does well. The paying job is not just a means to enable Dean to pastor a small, urban church. No, it is all one calling, one life, one vocation. Maybe a better term would be wholly-vocational, meaning that his calling seeps into every part of his life.

One of the non-helpful habits we have in the church is to separate our spiritual doings and thoughts from our secular ones. At its root, the term secular refers to something which relates to an age or a particular period of time. Unfortunately, it has come to mean that which is not connected with spiritual matters. But let me ask you, is anything dis-connected from spiritual matters? I don't think so. We are now beginning to re-learn that physical, chemical, intellectual, social, emotional, cultural, environmental, and hereditary factors all work together to affect our well-being. It is becoming more apparent that we divorce parts of life from each other at our own peril.

Life was meant to hold together as a unit, not be separated into job, family, church, hobby, me-time, finances, leisure, vacation, etc. For you fiction readers out there, John Irving captures a sense of the unity of life in his novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany. Recently I came across a lovely example of an artist incorporating unusual, everyday materials to make ethereal sculptures, integrating work and art in social spaces. (See this TEDtalk by artist Janet Echelman). Spiritual stuff is not meant to be cloistered inside a church meeting; the life of Jesus is meant to spill from our lives into the world. I believe that integrating all the parts of our lives can make our world more beautiful, multi-splendoured, and exquisitely meaningful.

I came across this video a few weeks ago from a Vineyard pastor in Washington state. I exclaimed a loud YES after watching it because it is an example of real integrity. Instead of trying to trim her life down to just the really important spiritual stuff, or viewing her hobbies as a way to decompress from the heavy burden of pastoring, she became aware that all of her life was vocation, even her rather unorthodox hobby. And I love the fact that it brought her into contact with people who might have remained at the fringes of her life had she not stepped into living life wholly-vocationally.

Watch it and be inspired. Rose Madrid-Swetman: The Poker Pastor

1 comment:

  1. So excellent. I love her insight at the end about adapting to the play. As pastors this is an amazing and necessary skill. Often we want everything sewn up neatly, but life isn't neat like that. We forget that life can't throw God off His game, so why do we let it throw us off? Now I have a new book to add to my must read list.