I received a comment recently on this post where the writer, in defending special privileges for Bishops that are denied other clergy, wrote in explanation of why Bishops do little pastoring of the pastors under their care: “they spend so much time troubleshooting the problem-children of the clergy that there is little time left over for hand-holding.”
Now, look at this situation: Bishops blame the ineffective clergy for the reasons they can’t do their job and clergy blame bad or dead or uncooperative churches for the reasons they are being called ineffective and the churches blame both the Bishops and the clergy for their own sinking state in inability to reach outside themselves with the words of grace.
Now where are we? The blame game must stop. Since the Bishops do have the privilege of life-long employment, I’d suggest that this would be a good place to stop the cycle, but also I call for everyone to stop blaming and get to faithful living, no matter the personal cost.
Also, since when is pastoral care just “hand-holding?” In my church, pastoral care consists of far, far more than that. It is deep soul care that encourages people to name sin, repent from it, find their redemption and move forward. It walks people through grief and sorrow, holds their pain for a period of time until they are able to pick it up themselves, and equips them for the journey. It helps discern the call of God upon individuals, offers insight and direction, and cheers them on as they seek to live most fully as God’s called-out people. Good, prophetic pastoral care is essential for the church to go forward. It can’t be neglected because “well, just look at how bad I’ve got it with my clergy” or whatever or whoever is convenient to blame.
Our Bishops carry the shepherd’s staff. That office carries giant responsibilities, and those responsibilities include caring properly for the pastors under their care. I personally don’t give a hoot about my own clergy security–if I am called to this life, I will pay a deep price for doing it. That’s what happens to people who follow Jesus–it is rarely a life sprinkled with goods and comfort, despite Joel Osteen’s prosperity contentions.
Here is the point: if we call ourselves, as United Methodists or any other church group, a spiritual organization, devoted to doing the work of God, then we need to act like it–and I just can’t find in Jesus’ teaching that the leaders get to escape what his/her followers must endure simply because they are named leaders. Jesus went to the cross for his followers–and we are told to do the same. I am not exempt from that, and neither is anyone else including our Bishops. Nonetheless, they have exempted themselves–and for that, I do think the heavens weep.
There is a deep, deep hypocrisy here that is not being addressed. Never, ever in Kingdom of Heaven living, do the ends justify the means.