We serve a purpose. Ultimately we do what we do for God. On another level, we share Jesus with people because we care about... people. Our purpose is not (on our best days) set by the people around us but by the workings of the spirit. Sometimes our purpose (on our worst days) is set by the whims of ravenous people, institutions, and society. I read somewhere that some pastors suffer burnout because they conceive of themselves as being "quivering masses of availability" and for some, I'd say thats true.
But with so many things in life, too much of a good thing is...well... not a good thing.
One of the coolest (and sometimes hardest) parts of my job is to be a transition man. One peer of mine, DG Hollums, doesn't call himself a pastor at all, but instead, a "Cultural Architect"
This idea is at the very heart of what I do. I make sure that I'm a willing (and welcome) participant to the transitions of life. Whether it's a wedding, a funeral, a new baby, a coming home party, a tough decision, waiting for God to show up, or any number of activities that compose "life" - I help people through it. Sometimes I'll challenge people to see things in a new way. Sometimes I'll comfort people who just need someone to be with them.
So I offer this thought just as Christmas begins... I've spent a month trying to prepare my congregation for the coming of Christ. Now I'm going to bow out. I must decrease so he may increase. A good pastor has to know when he has served his purpose. She must be a big enough person to say the hard things (or soft things!) but a small enough person that she can disappear into the background until needed again.
We, as Christians, have a duty to love this world - not correct all the wrongs that happen in this world. Sure, we live like Christ lived and so try to show the world a better way through godly living - but its Jesus' job to grow people in his mysterious way. We have to be very clear about our "job" and leave the rest to God.
This Christmas, try being transitional. Be there with people when they need to work through something (or when they want you to participate) but also don't be so full of yourself that you can't step back and just get out of God's way.
Oh, and if you'd like to hear my last crack at making room for Jesus, I'll be preaching at the Christmas Eve Service at 5pm in the Well at Riverchase United Methodist Church. I would love for you to join us.