Where does one turn when one does not know where to turn?
To a place where a set of relationships have been carved and have formed a deep and trusted rut over years of use. That would be with friends who truly know one another.
For many years I struggled and survived pretty much alone in the wilderness of ministry. Our life as pastors is to know and study people and to not be surprised by anything that floats our way. We are to be good listeners and better physicians of the soul. The problem: we have not taken care of our own…souls. That place that is deep and integrates the varied thoughts, convictions and passions of our life. Without constant reflection we end up talking to ourselves and continually being trapped inside our own circular arguments. Speaking for myself, I am driven to please myself and protect myself from any exterior harm. What I needed were a couple of friends to listen unreservedly and knock me out of the habits that dominate my thinking and acting.
Some of us do well at internal processing of ideas and decisions, but most are in need of a good airing and a good vetting to try out the suit before we put it on. I have worn too many ill-fitting ideas and placed way too many zany and fractured outfits on the table too soon or in the wrong way. It takes a good friend to say…”Not now” or “are you sure you want to do that?”.
But, first of all, it takes enormous trust to share those things in the first place and that is what takes the time. Every once in a while we need to place our brains, our brawn and our hair brained outfits on the table for someone else to tailor and see if there is life or hope in the outcome. Most of the time I see more radical altering of the fabric required before stepping out and going public. The trust is hard earned and hugely time consuming.
Those “someone elses” is the key. Who might they be? Certainly those who are available, pleasant, self discerning, insightful, prayerful, and wise. People you would not be uncomfortable driving a thousand miles with. Someone who can engage and then be quiet to allow for times of silence and reflection. The relationships with those someones takes a trial period and then a deep dive. Transparency in the early days is crucial to test the waters and see the genuine nature of a possible long term relationship.
We need these folk. They allow us a breath of fresh air in a sometimes stifling, treadmill-driven, oxygen-deprived world. Those fresh eyes and ears open the door to new ideas, the latest readings, the latest unheard uproarious ministry stories and, should things go well, the undiscovered depths of the soul.
You need to try this.