I maintain a lot of different things in my life. My car. My apartment, cluttered as it is. The three different trucks I drive for work. The warehouse at work. The rooms in the church buildings where children’s classes take place. Various personal, work, and ministry responsibilities. I know, pretty tame stuff. But it’s my life, so there you have it. Life seems to be an ongoing process of maintenance. Sometimes the needs are minimal; sometimes quite demanding; other times simply boring; but once in awhile transcendent.
But it isn’t just physical stuff that needs maintenance. It is us, too. People. Me. You. Even when we refuse to acknowledge it. Our culture may value rugged individualism, stoic silence. But inside some of us know we are living in quiet desperation. The cluttered home betrays a cluttered life. Yet the clean home may betray a life far more cluttered. On the surface, it is really hard to tell. But deep inside the heart the truth percolates, finding ways here and there to bubble to the surface.
Some folks complain about high maintenance people. I suppose they would know best, notwithstanding their lack of self-awareness. We are all needy. There, I said it. And I admit it. I have needs. So do you, if you look closely enough. Now, the degree to which I perceive my needs might be different from someone else. I don’t go running around the church campus shouting out a litany of my needs to all who will listen, and even those who will not. I am pretty stoic that way. But no less needy. I was raised to call attention to the needs of others, but handle my own needs privately or in the context of family. The former is truly a joy. The latter is quite humorous, given that I am single and will live alone for the remainder of my days.
Yet I have freshly begun to address the issue of aloneness by once again seeking out community in regular tangible ways. I don’t go into community for the purpose of having my needs heard or even met; I go to listen, learn, give, and love. And, in that context, something beautiful is happening, a realization that maybe, just maybe, I am not as alone as I have suspected all these years. I am not entirely convinced yet, I admit, needy person that I am. But I am sensing that maybe, just maybe, I can be in community as a full participant, rather than simply in a “role.”
I realize that some might wonder what I mean by “role.” I will say it plainly: the pastor’s hat, which seems always to be on in the context of any sort of church gathering. I realize it is what I chose to sign up for all those years ago. But I also am learning that the ways in which culture applies it is far removed from biblical intent. That is, pastors are to be in full community with their community, rather than a priestly, professional class, aloof and above. After all, believers are ALL the royal priesthood. Even Jesus shared his needs with the twelve. Throughout the Fourth Gospel, Jesus clearly indicated his complete reliance on the Father concerning what to say and do in the context of his earthly ministry. Are we less needy than Jesus? Are we sure of our attitude to the last question?