"We work in the confidence that God is able to give us the gifts and graces needed for ministry in our time and place." -Will Willimon, Pastor
"Tell Archippus: "See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord."- Col 4:17
When I read the Willimon quote above, the first thing I think is "Oh, I certainly hope so."
And as for the quote from Colossians...
Archippus was the one who (apparently) was left as the pastor when Epaphras, who planted the church in Colossae left to be with Paul.
A little pastoral pick-me-up from Paul there. "See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord."
Gregory of Nazianzen was called by his people to be their pastor, but in his mind it was "too high." He wrote of his reluctance to bear what he saw as the "commission to guide and govern souls... especially in times like these."
So he ran away. Ordained on Christmas, it wasn't too long after that he fled out to the desert.
But his people begged him to return.
He waited, and waited... and by the time he came back, his people were so angry at him that they refused to come hear him preach at Easter.
In 362 he wrote a letter of explanation to his community, explaining his feelings and his actions. He said pastors are like sailors "who cross the wide oceans and constantly contend with wind and waves." His preference, he told them, would be to stay ashore, and plow a short but pleasant furrow, saluting at a respectful distance the sea and its gains.
Will Willimon writes about Gregory that in the end, he went back because he realized "his people needed him and because he was more afraid of disobeying God than he was of being a pastor."
From one who's never had too much interest in the short but pleasant furrow, but still occasionally gets overwhelmed by the tossing waves, I'm glad to hear of people like Archippus and Gregory.
Their stories give me context- an understanding that the seasickness is normal. Occasionally I understand the call of the desert over that of the waves. Solid ground vs. shifting sea. But that's illusory. The sands shift just as much as the sea. And not to say that pastoral ministry is the sea and all else is small but pleasant furrows in the midst of a desert. Pastoral ministry is my sea... what God has called me to.
And so, even in the midst of a bit of disequilibrium, there's nothing I'd rather be doing as my life's work than helping people spiritually, teaching, counseling... helping these people, loving and teaching these people.