The Tension Between Doing and Being

September 14th, 2012

Consider it a gift when you keenly feel the tension between doing and being. It is a positive sign of your awareness of God's call, a sign of your maturity in Christ and one of the places where every Christian may experience significant growth and renewal.

The tension between and doing can be a pressure point of pain and anguish in a sensitive and sincere pastor's heart. We are often troubled and wonder why there never seems to be enough time or energy to pray and do. This tension is often ignored, avoided, denied, or covered up. It is better that the tension be recognized, attended to, and even honored for the fertile place of growth it can be. We struggle because compassion for others compels us to act while desire for intimacy with God compels us to flee into solitude.

To achieve a healthy balance here is to have discovered one of the keys of faithful and fruitful ministry. There is strong temptation to deny the tension and, therefore, to fall into patterns of behavior that give attention to only one part of our formation. To recognize the invitation of Jesus to follow this one pathway that includes intimacy and action, prayer and compassion, can help save us from the destructive practice of paying attention to only part of our formation in Christ.

Whether serving a small membership congregation, a mega church, or a five-point circuit, pastors are always pulled in two important directions. One is the direction of doing. Every parish and every community is need-filled enough to demand more time and energy than any pastor can possibly provide. It is these very same needs that drive pastors to their knees seeking God's help for those within their care. It is these very same needs that drive pastors to their knees seeking God's strength for their part in God's active redemption of the world. Recognizing that Christian ministry can be lonely, demanding, and even destructive, faithful pastors are driven to their knees seeking intimacy, healing, and strength that can only come from close companionship with God.

Finding a healthy balance between doing and being is a lifelong journey. It never becomes easy and it never becomes simple. But there are some marks along the pathway that have been left by those who have travelled ahead of us. We are not the first ones to experience this tension.

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