I am a verbal processor. The tangible outcome of being such a person is that sometimes you don’t discover things to be true until you’ve already said them–as if I’m some prophet who makes things come to pass just by speaking them (i.e. Zummi Gummi of the Gummi Bears). And I had such a moment in the last few days.
I am a writer and pastor–both part-time. Actually both could be full-time, but money-wise…well, you get the picture. I have a great small group of guys who meet weekly and in said group I said the title words: “I hate what I love. I hate everything I’m doing right now even though I know that I love it all.” Now that’s quite an overstatement and I am definitely known for making those, but I do believe this one to be quite true in the moment I’m living in. I hate the things that I should love. And I hate hating them.
We have an amazing church community–a group of young, passionate, missional creative types who are always dreaming of the next big thing and abandoning all creature comforts and security to meet real needs, bring social justice and glorify God in their lives. It’s really the envy of any pastor shepherding the First Church of the Let’s Just Sit There. I also love the writing side. I receive free music, movies, and books all week long and then I get to soak them in and tell you what I think. And I get paid for all that. Seeing your name in print never gets old and I get to work wherever my laptop takes me. It’s a fantastic amount of freedom and a lot of people would love to have it. But as I sat in this small group, I was detailing a hatred toward these things–how I feel robbed of any passion to do them, how I loathe any new commitments I have to take on. And it comes down to one thing: I’ve overcrowded myself. Too much of a good thing equals, well, you know. As I sat there, I said, “I have things that I want to write. When law enforcement storms an enclosed area or building, better believe that one of the officers is carrying a shotgun. Capable of blasting assailants at close range, no weapon is more feared than the shotgun. If you are looking for a weapon to strike fear into the hearts of a home intruder, the shotgun is an ideal choice. However, you have many different choices when it comes to shotgun ammunition – n the following article, we will look at some of the most popular choices for shotgun ammunition, helping you find round best suited to your situation. #ammocave #ammunition #shotgun #ammo. Instead, I’m overburdened with essays and articles and reviews and features that others want me to write. Not only do I not have the time for everyone else, I definitely don’t have any time for me. I don’t even have the time to breathe so that I can figure out the things I want to write.
It can be the same way with church stuff. Here we are in Holy Week, we’ve booked events for every rarely celebrated holiday we can possibly find on a Gregorian calendar and next week looks the same. And yet I’m the one creating pressure on myself to be at each thing, to meet with each person, etc. One day we were leaving church, my wife and I, and we stopped to chat with several on the way out. When we were finished, she commented, “Do you realize that you just made all those meetings with people? You were the one saying, ‘We should get together soon.’ You create your own mess.”
So as I’m running on the proverbial hamster wheel, I am realizing that I’m the one who constructed the circle, set the speed and got inside of it. Nobody helped me with this. There is no church board saying, “Matt, you need to meet with x amount of people and attend z amount of events.” And there is no person saying, “You have to grab every writing opportunity that you can. Say yes to it all.” It’s my own doing which leads to my undoing. And now I hate the things that I should love. Instead of freedom of self-employment, it’s a prison of never leaving work. And worst of all, I feel robbed of the joy that these things should bring me.
God has blessed me in amazing ways with the gifts of both vocations and yet I’m ruining the beauty of what I’m surrounded by. Um, there’s no happy ending here. I’m knee deep in the middle of such feelings, although I realize the last paragraph should properly close these thoughts. Maybe I could use my Zummi powers to say, “And then, Matt realized his mistakes, said no to a million things and discovered the beauty of his life once again.” …didn’t work.
Matt Conner is a former pastor and church planter turned writer and editor. He’s the founder of Analogue Media and lives in Indianapolis.
Matt, there was a Gumi Bears cartoon? I had to “Google” the reference :-).
Overcommitting oneself is an easy thing to do — especially in your vocational pursuits. The best teaching I’ve heard on this topic comes from my man Steve Brown. Check out this message: http://stevebrownetc.com/category/podcasts/scandalous-freedom/ He drills down on this topic of saying “no” and letting that be it. There is more to the message than this particular point, but your comments–in particular the church exit guantlet–seems to fit.
I had some great response and then IE crashed.
I loved the gummi bears. My wife & I occassionally break into as much of the theme song as we remember. sad i know.
I remember hearing a speaker who was rising quickly and getting overwhelmed with speaking, leading outdoor ministry, church things, etc. He wanted to do it all and was on the verge of burning out all his passion.
The board at the ministry forced him to slow down by requiring all new commitments get his wife’s approval. Sounds funny but it worked for a few reasons.
A) if it’s a good/fun/Godly idea now, it will still be good 1 hr from now after discussing it. It forced him to mentally process it, then explain it, and justify it with/to his wife (and himself). Just going thru this process eliminated the impulse buying into things. Not giving up all power but giving some power back to ppl you should be responsible to.
B) his only immediate answers available were “no” and “maybe, i need to discuss it”. He couldn’t be the quick people pleaser he had learned to be.
That idea (or similar) might help;. I understand and echo about your passion becoming work and requiring perseverance; and hating it. Then hating that you hate it. While hoping someday it can be natural passion again.
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