I process almost everything outwardly. It is in my nature. Whether I take a Myers Briggs test or Birkman analysis or any one of a dozen personality instruments I discover that I work things out in the field. My process is to float ideas and thoughts on the sea of others reactions and feelings and modulate my interior reflections carefully and thoughtfully. The danger is I can rely too much on what is safe and allow others responses to dictate my own convictions based on what is benign and inoffensive, or at least, on balance, down the middle and never extreme.
I need others…I need my brothers. Speaking with them I know they will hear my heart and my mind. Collectively they will bring fresh words and perceptions to me that I never considered, to then rehabilitate my own thoughts to be more whole. But more than that, with time, we will have the courage to speak of convictions that come from unresolved places, some even dark; places that need outing and cleansing. This only comes from time spent with and in the company of those who are not afraid to speak and not perturbed by challenging false assumptions.
My tendency when under pressure and doubt is to retreat into myself, to a place even bordering on self-pity. How tragic that is. What it does to my creativity and ability to dream is to close off the juices of the Spirit. Those fresh winds come mostly through people I trust and relationships that are transparent and free to see me and speak into my life with laughter and seriousness mixed in a joyful soup. Our little experiment to do that together as men has proved to be what the doctor ordered. It is daunting at times but the excitement felt as we drive to our location for lunch and coffee is the anticipation that we are heading into a place of peace…and a lot of fun.
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.
What does it mean to hold friends close?
Many years ago, about 15 in fact, a couple of “friends”, or should I say acquaintances at that particular point, got together and decided to hang out a little to see where it would all go. Little did we know what it takes for true friendship to mature and feed the soul.
In the beginning we commented on social events, relationships gone wrong, pastoral dilemmas, political and cultural oddities, and theological movements that morphed in front of our eyes. Many words were spilled as we attempted to decipher what we sensed were important topics to cover. Then it got personal. At some point we collectively decided to drop the facade and let light shine into some dark corners. There have been lots of those.
As we begin this journey, it seems fitting that we draw on some classical humour. Of course, the real intent of this blog is to share the collective experiences of three very different men, from three very different traditions. All of us have walked together over 15 years and have shared our lives, our loves, our frustrations, and our joys. We do spend time in a lot of restaurants, including bars and coffee shops, where we speak about our lives as ministers of the Gospel, the people we serve, and the families we love. Our times are always rich, and have proven the wisdom of sharing in the communion of saints. We hope you’ll enjoy journeying with us.