Monday, July 02, 2007

calling

I’m back at the beach this morning. I feel smarter here sometimes. Let me put it this way, if gray hair is a sign of wisdom and knowledge, I’m swimming in the Encyclopedia Britannica this morning. The retired crew is out in force inside and outside. I’m beginning to think that the promised rapture has come and only taken those under 50, with a few notable exceptions at caffeine central.
The sun is out, the water is blue, the mountains still white, and the ferries are dutifully carrying their cargo of those less fortunate to real jobs across the bay. I on the other hand, live and breathe in the realm of pseudo employment. By that I mean, I don’t necessarily have real hours in which I perform the tasks for which I receive financial reward. This might sound like a brilliant plan to operate by but, let me assure you, it’s not always all that it seems. As a pastoral artist, I really kind of get paid for being instead of doing.
In order to really be effective at this, I believe anyway, I can’t be confined to a 9 to 5 schedule. That would mean that I would need to be giving, serving, loving, patient, reverent, and all the rest of those admirable pastoral qualities all within the regular schedule of traditional office hours. When off the clock, I would be free to unwind and be a total jack ass. All deaths would have to be between 9 and 5. Of course I would need an hour for lunch a few 15 minute breaks in between, so please no marital strife then either. I can’t do weddings unless you want to deal with time and a half for overtime and Sunday messages…… don’t even go there. I have rights you know.
Fortunately, someone had the wisdom, somewhere back in time, to understand this. They must have had a full head of gray hair. It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure. It is if you treat it right anyway. It’s actually more of a calling. Honestly, sometimes I wish that I had caller ID back when I received “the call”. Most of the time though, I really appreciate this life. I mean really, how many ever get to be paid for just being rather than doing. Pastors and artists, successful ones anyway, both share in the idea of being financially compensated for being. I guess that is part of the reason for my self proclaimed title of pastoral artist.
So I’m watching the ferries and letting this stream of consciousness role through my synapses, and I wonder what life would be like if more were identified by their roles and not just their tasks. Granted, there would be some disadvantages. There are some professions that, while absolutely worthy and essential to our civilization, would not wear well as a 24/7 role to play. There are some jobs that need to be left after the shift, but all the same they require a level of skill and care and effort that could carry over into our being. On the other hand, what would life be like if people lived their roles beyond the pay scale? What if teachers lived lives that taught all of the time? What if physicians were consumed with healing? What if lawyers….well never mind. There are admittedly some flaws in the concept.
I don’t really think that this is a one size fits all concept. I have assimilated some of the wisdom in this place, after all. I do think that this carries over in other aspects of life. In my life, it’s essential that I live my chosen mission. There are demands and responsibilities that go with the description. I knew this going into it, as do most who take on a task or a role for which they are wearing a title. Doctors know this, lawyers know this, flight attendants know this, baristas know this, cooks know this, and landscapers know this. Most times, unless you have a union job, the title identifies the task.
It’s my professional opinion that people of faith need to know this as well. To call yourself a Christian, for example, comes with certain expectations. They identify the role. When in a hospital, it’s not too big a stretch to tell who the doctor is. They act like doctors. When in a courtroom, it’s not difficult to identify the lawyers. On a beach, the life guards are readily identifiable as is the ice cream guy driving by in the truck. When in a church, you should be able to identify at least some of the Christians. When outside of their natural settings, it becomes a bit more challenging to separate any of them, one from another. You might wonder why I even take the time to care about this at all. I’m glad you asked.
Here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter as much if you can’t identify the others outside of their task. Christians, on the other hand, even more so the professional ones, are specifically called to be identified outside of their environments. Being identified on the inside is not a very big deal. In fact their environments aren’t supposed to be their environments at all. I’ll take just one more minute to address those who share my faith. We are supposed to exist outside. We are supposed to be more than do. Ours is a calling, not a title. Some of us are paid for this and therefore have a higher obligation to live and love and serve, but only lightly higher. None of us are hired, all of us are called. So take some time, after 5 of course, to go outside and practice being. It’s a good life when you live it.

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