I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions. I have come to believe that the practice of making resolutions at the start of the year was originally started by some masochist who enjoyed feeling like a failure. It’s not for me.
But as I find myself reflecting on the past year, and thinking about realistic goals for the new year, I couldn’t help but notice that for some reason I quit blogging toward the end of 2014.
Writing has always been my outlet to more deeply explore my thoughts and feelings. I have been writing since I was a young child in order to work through difficult feelings or to develop a more solid understanding of what I believe. So why would I stop doing what I love so much?
Well, the first reason that surfaces was the most obvious one: As a pastor, my life and every word I speak is under constant scrutiny by those around me. On the one hand, this keeps me honest and forces me to have to think about what I’m saying and doing. Loving accountability is a wonderful thing that keeps us true to ourselves… but then there’s the other side of accountability. The not-so-loving side. And sadly, pastors are often subjected to this form more often than we like to admit.
Basically, as the year began to wind down I began to allow the people who hang on my every word for no other reason to use them against me to dictate what I say and how I say it. Worried that a couple of people would take offense, or misunderstand my intentions, or simply take a word out of context, I chose silence.
Mind you, I don’t tend to feel overwhelmed by those who think differently from me. When friends, family, or colleagues enter into dialogue with me from a position the polar opposite of mine, the potential for learning and growth are amazing. To rely too heavily on an old cliché: Some of my best friends are Tea Partiers. Anyone who knows me knows that I am pretty far from the Tea Party ideologically. However, the conversation we have had has often been some of the most eye-opening I could ask for. We know we aren’t going to change one another’s stance with a word, so we meet each other on the common ground of mutual respect, and we learn from each other.
No, what I’m talking about are not those who think differently than I do, but those people who would happily bully me into silence when we don’t agree.
It has always been a problem for us preachers–where is the line that we need to walk between keeping the peace within our worshipping communities and answering God’s call to be social prophets in our day and time? When am I living like Christ? And when am I denying Christ by refusing to speak? It’s a difficult distinction to make, and too often we choose silence as a way of not “rocking the boat”.
The problem with not rocking the boat is that no one will see Jesus walking on the water if everything is calm and easy. No one will have reason to step into the choppy waters on faith. No one will see Christ’s hand plunging into the deeps to rescue them when they begin to sink.
I, for one, want to get out of the boat–I, for one, want to see Jesus walking on the water–so I guess I’m going to have to venture into the choppy waters of faith.
For a while, I let my fear of what some might say to prevent me from getting in the boat to begin with.
This year, even though I’m not one for making resolutions, I resolve to not let people dictate what I say, but to let Christ give me the words.
“Our lives end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.