What bedevils you? We all have them, the demons who frighten or tempt us. Either way, we spend lots of time and effort running from or running to these demons. That's how we know it is a true demon, not just a sin, because it is both frightening and alluring.
Mine (and we all have several) is success. I both crave it and fear it. And because I serve a large church you would think I have succeeded.
Nope. I didn't grow it, you see, and for some time now it has been shrinking - years in fact
Now, I know there are many reasons things happen, some of them unknown and some uncontrollable, but when you are the leader responsibility falls on you more than any one person. Sort of like oil spills.
So my apparent success is diluted by circumstance. I have not actually succeeded, you see. But what would success be?
More people in church? More money in the budget? More fame? I suppose, but that's where the fear kicks in. I know that there is no spot where one can say, I have succeeded. What would it take to feel successful? 500 in church? 1000? 2000? $2 million budget, $4 millon? Book deals? TV shows? Invitations to the White House?
And even if that were to feel like success, what would pursuing that path cost me in health, relationships, integrity? And how could it be truly success when we clergy are called to follow in the footsteps of prophets who went barefoot, endured scorn, and even met death?
It's complicated, which is what demons do. They complicate what we all know is simple and good with ambitions and anxieties that distort what we know really matters. As I get older the power they have is less. Maybe I am going deaf inwardly as well.
But those siren songs still get through from time to time. On a lightly attended Sunday like today I feel a bit of dread. How can I do better? Can I do better? It is easy to worry.
Then I pause, listen to myself, and say, "God plus one is a majority," as Thoreau put it, I believe. If I show up in good faith, do what I can with honesty, it will be enough. The rest is not up to me.
Gotta hit the hay.