Dion's random ramblings

Monday, February 18, 2008

Being a minister in a secular world...

I don't know how the other 'ministers / pastors / priests' feel about telling people what they do. I seldom tell people that I am a minister, unless they press and pry I tend to say something like 'I am a teacher', or ,'I train people for a living'. These are not untruths, but they do veil the truth of my ordination slightly.

The reason that I do this is twofold. First, I don't tell people what I do upfront because I find that when most people realise that they are speaking with a minister they cast me in the light of their own stereotypes. For some that is the stereotype of a holies than thou person who is obsessed with morality, the Bible and God (which is not entirely untrue - although I do hope that I don't come across that way!) For others it may be a scant reminder of some televangelist they have heard or read about. And so before we have even begun to relate I sometimes get the feeling that I have been judged and boxed, and that their responses are guarded and unnatural.

The second reason why I don't tell people what I do is because there are some times, I have come to discover, where I cannot do what is expected of a minister. My current state is one such example. I am in pain, I need to muster my resources to cope with my own feelings, emotions, fears, and struggles, and I would not be of much help as a counsellor or spiritual director to any other person at the moment. Sadly, my accident has left my world rather small (about the size of the bed to which I am confined). Sure, I shall be able to draw on this experience in the months and years to come, but for now it is best that I don't create an unrealistic expectation of what I can do.

I still pray for the staff and patients, the care givers and administrators, in the ward. I remember them before God and ask God to heal them, as I ask the same for myself. But that is a private matter - it is my joy and duty to do so as Christian, not as a Methodist minister.

So, I have not told anyone that I am a minister. I have, however, gently guided conversations towards prayer, faith, and the hope of God's healing power. And, it has been great to see how people have responded. A well to do gentlemen with a lovely young wife (no doubt a second wife) was with me in the ward last night. As we chatted I asked him about his faith, and about his surgery and how we was coping with the pain and slow recovery. As we chatted he spoke of how his life has changed through this experience in hospital. He spoke of a woman cleaner who prayed with him in the middle of the night a few days ago when his pain would not subside, and of how he has come to appreciate the value and blessing of life!

I just listened and asked a few pointed questions. It was glorious! It has been years since I have been able to do this with anonimity. Often people come to see me now because I have a title, I hold a prominent office in the Church, or because I have some influence to practically change their situation within the Church. This person, however, did not know any of that. He simply knows me as a reckless young man who broke his leg in a motorcycle accident. And so he talked, and we prayed.

I had a tough night last night. We are not sure why, but my fever has stayed at around 38-39 degrees. It could simply be the body reacting to the breaks in the leg. It could be that there is an infection brewing somewhere. This morning I fittedn my 'boot' and made my way to the bathroom with a walking ring to have a shave and a wash down. My blood pressure dropped and so did I. Luckily I passed out onto a chair. I am somewhat disheartened! I hate being so helpless! I hate being subject to a broken leg (of all things!)

My friend prayed with me because I am a fellow journeyer in this life that has an ebb and flow. He understands that sometimes things go well, and at other times it does not. We are just two people who are discovering things about ourselves, about our lives, and about our God. And that is good enough.


  • Hi Old Friend, I am sorry to hear about your accident. Mending takes time but the spirit is strong, so I pray for you feeling down and being sore. I know what it feels to have unexpected surgery and feeling like an invalid. May your time in hospital be a blessing to others and a form of healing for yourself. It brings to ones mind in the middle of the night our God's pain that he suffered for us. I take it you are in Pretoria East hospital, will look it up and see the address, hope to visit.
    My daugher is having a very difficult time with the new baby, so much so that she cannot sleep and phoned me in desperation. So I spent some time in prayer with her yesterday, knowing that the Lord will step in in power and giving thanks for it. Let us always be in good cheer and in the hope vested in us in the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessings Herman.

    By Blogger Herman G, at 12:07 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home