Thursday, November 6, 2008

You Got Me Goin' In Circles

"Blessed are those who go around in circles, for they shall be known as 'Wheels.'"

A few years back, Cathy and I sat in a conference for pastors and wives. A few hundred people filled a ballroom in a nice Phoenix hotel. It was the early days of cell phones and they had just morphed in technology so you didn't have to carry one of those "bricks" around. At the time, the latest and greatest was the very first "flip phone." They were still monstrous, overwhelming any pocket and many purses.

Most people weren't using them yet. Minutes were expensive and precious back then. Maybe that's why this incident sticks in my mind.

One of the pastors kept walking out of the meeting to answer his phone, which had just (again) demanded the attention of the entire room with its loud ring. Most people would have been embarrassed enough after the first time to just turn the phone off, but not this guy. Each time he returned to his seat, all the way across the room from the exit, almost every eye followed him. We had some outstanding national speakers for that conference and I can only imagine how they felt each time they had to reclaim our attention from that one guy and his Motorola.

I have no idea what those calls were about and certainly don't know the motive for jumping up to answer each one. Heaven knows that, back then, I thought I was pretty important when I had one of them up against my ear as I drove down the street. (In my earliest days, it was the end of the month, I had minutes left, and I called Cathy from Wal-Mart just to talk, even though I would be home just a few minutes later. Embarrassed smile.)

What I do know about is this: some people want to be indispensable. It's epidemic among us pastors. It can maim us, ministerially speaking. It can even be fatal.

You see, for most of us, pastoring is a mixture, of leading, teaching, caring for the hurting, managing, budgeting, writing, editing, showing hospitality, counseling, fixing office machines, and -- sometimes -- locking up at end. We care because, well, it's part of our default wiring. We feel guilty if we can't make it to every hospital call, family emergency or committee meeting. We often live in fear that we will miss something, causing someone we care about to take offense. We thrive on being the calm voice in the midst of the chaos and we worry about it all coming apart without us.

At the end of the day, or week, or month -- we look back with exhaustion and think, "At least I earned my paycheck." But there's a problem.

It's addictive.

AND it robs the gifted people around us from sharing in the joy. It keeps great people from becoming who they were designed to be.

Wanna get off the Merry-Go-Round? Tomorrow...

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