There’s No Such Thing as an Omni-gifted Pastor

bulbcroppedsmallI was helping a few of the men of our church do some work in the sanctuary. One of the house light fixtures had a socket that wouldn’t light, even when we tried a new bulb. I suggested to Tim, perched at the top of a stepladder beneath the light, that perhaps the little metal “thingy” in the center of the socket was pushed up and wasn’t making contact with the center connection of the light bulb. I assured him I had turned the house light switch to the “off” position and that it was safe for him to put his finger into the socket to try and pry the “thingy” down a bit. (You know where this is going, but please humor me and let me continue).

I did not know that this light was on a three-way switch. I did not know what a three-way switch was. I now know that the current is not stopped from flowing even though you’ve turned off one of the switches. When Tim probed the socket with his index finger he jumped (thankfully not off the ladder) and made some kind of grunting, gasping sound. I was shocked! Okay, I wasn’t shocked like Tim was, but I was definitely surprised. For my remaining years at the church Tim often brought up this little episode in the presence of congregational members who were to hold me in high regard and with great respect. I have to admit that he did so with a smile on his face, proving the principle that you can forgive but not necessarily forget!

Memory of this electrifying episode is a continuing reminder to me that we can’t be good at everything. We all have our gifts and abilities and our lack of gifts and abilities. Now I know that as pastors we’ve preached and taught this theme time and time again. But I also know that we pastors can beat ourselves up when we exhibit lackadaisical performance in some area of ministry, or are reminded of such by a parishioner. Maybe we need to sit back and listen to a recording of our own last sermon we preached on spiritual gifts!

I’m going to resist giving a set of bullet points on how to deal with this, because you don’t need for me to do so; you’ve undoubtedly prepared enough sermons that you’re good at that. Anyway, it’s more about an attitude than it is about a set of actions. We just have to resist the temptation of trying to be viewed by our parishioners and fellow clergy as some kind of a super pastor. Each of us is uniquely gifted, yes, but not omni-gifted!