Growing up is strange. I assumed the advent of adulthood would have been a memorable, recorded event- a developmental baton handed from my adolescent self to a mature, responsible man. Not so much. Instead, the strongest realizations that I’m no longer a child come during the monthly arrival of utility bills or my excitement for a sale on kitchen utensils at Aldis.
It’s an eerily similar phenomenon to my role as a pastor. While graduation and ordination ceremonies showed the outside world I had indeed taken on the mantle, it was not paired with a supernatural, internal, spiritual transformation. I still daily struggle with putting others ahead of myself. When I pray, there are times when I wonder if I’ve deluded myself into thinking anyone is actually listening to me, or if my petitions never get beyond the bedroom’s stucco ceiling. Plus I’m an introvert, and Christian community is exhausting. People expect me to invest in them when often I’d rather be watching the latest episode of The Flash.
And here’s the real gut punch, most days, because I’m a pastor, I’m scared to even admit that I struggle with these thoughts. The logic goes like this: If people realize their pastor wrestles with doubt, it’ll only legitimize their own doubts and concerns. Essentially, if a pastor has can’t get their act together, what hope does everyone else have? Or I’m just the worst pastor this side of the Mississippi, and all the other ministers have it all figured out.
It’s the reason why I resonate with the song Doubting Thomas from Nickel Creek. “Can I be used to help others find truth, when I’m scared I’ll find proof that it’s a lie… oh me of little faith.”
Yet here’s the truth about Thomas the Doubter. Yeah, he had some serious reservations about Jesus and his mission, but he still showed up. He kept following. And as he stuck around, his questions were answered. If God is really God, he’s bigger than our deepest, darkest doubts. They don’t rattle him, and he’ll help us navigate the choppy waters.
My logic was off: it’s not ‘if they pastor wrestles with his faith, what hope do the rest of us have.’ It’s ‘if the pastor wrestles with his faith because he’s one of us, the rest of us have hope.’
So the focus of this series, Doubting Thomas, is to be real with my struggles, my fears, and my questions. They’re allowed to be scary, and they’re allowed to be raw. If God’s big enough to handle mine, I’ll put money he’s big enough to help you with yours.