On November 11 I was installed as a Deacon in my church. In a nutshell this involves a “setting aside”. Basically, I’m recognized as someone in my congregation who has pledged himself to serve the needs of the congregation. The installation is simply formal acknowledgement of that.
Typically, that is.
I was also asked to deliver the message at all of our worship services for the week. It was a task that I readily agreed to take on, but one that did not come without some significant internal self reflection.
There are so many things that I want to share with … heck, let’s be honest … with anyone who will listen. Here, I was to have a captive audience. But…
They were not there to hear me and my ideas. They were there to find connection with their Lord. They were there to praise Him for the blessings in their lives… to ask Him for continued blessings… to plead with Him for healing and intervention… to fume in anger and wonder about why He chose to take a loved one from them.
All these things… They wanted from their Lord and God. Not from me.
Part of what I feel have have to share is an overwhelming sense that the answers to their problems… the solutions to their questions… the comfort for their losses… all of it… is to be found in the simple process of connecting with their God, and that I am called to be a conduit for that connection.
It truly isn’t about me. I struggle constantly to make sure that “I” stay out of the way. “I” have nothing to offer of myself. What I have that might be useful comes from Him. Heck, what I have – weather useful or not at any particular moment – comes from Him.
I work in downtown Chicago and live in the NW Suburbs. I take the train back and forth every workday and love to complain about the commute. The truth is – I relish that time. If I had to drive I’d be too occupied in my mind to let it wander and I’ve discovered that it’s my wondering time that comprises the meat of my journey.
Last Thursday I was settling in for a little reading. I was reading a recent best seller and following intently the authors train of thinking… really starting to get into it… when…
I overheard a couple of guys near me talking about their small group bible discussion. I paused and listened. One of them was telling the other that he was very happy with the group because it was being led by a Deacon. He was pleased that someone with more education and understanding than a common lay leader was in charge of his group. It made him feel … like he had access to more … authoritative knowledge.
Of course it occurred to me that I could be that Deacon. I wasn’t. I knew that. But…
People in my groups could think of me in that way. I really wasn’t prepared for the weight of that thought. It brings responsibility.
I embarked on my diaconal studies for myself. Not for anyone else. I wanted to enlighten myself. I wanted to know more. I still do. And yet…
I find myself leading through what I learned.
So be it.
I do understand now that I need to be careful to not be reckless. I enjoy taking a radical view of a position and then breaking it down. Others may not understand things that way.
So I understand that when I speak with others I need to be careful to not jump out too quickly with an obscure viewpoint. Yet…
Sometimes the viewpoint that is mine is uniquely obscure. It’s derived from a combination of rudimentary study, self exploration and a ton of conversation with the main Guy.
Bear with me while I learn to walk the line… To deliver what my friends, family, and fellows need in both written and spoken form… To be the Deacon… To lead toward discovery of spiritual reality and the paradox’s that accompany that… a wonderful world of exploration and possibility that sets us right with our Lord… In the way we need…
————– Update September 2013 —————
I am who I am. I think that’s a concept that we all need to embrace. Following a little logic play…
- I am who I am.
- I’m not who I’m not.
- I’m not someone else.
- I’m not anyone else.
- No one else is me.
Why does this have any importance at all?
Because last spring I was approached by a member of my church who was intent on making a point in a very aggressive way. It seemed that something I’d said had offended him and he was aghast that I was unaware that I’d “committed” the offense. In the end, none of this really bothered me. What bothered me most was that he declared that he was right to be offended because I was a deacon and should be held to a higher standard than others.
Is that what being set aside means? That others can cast judgement upon me and measure my value with a yardstick that is different than the one they use for themselves?
I’m sorry, but I can’t – won’t – accept that. I never made any claims to have any greater value than anyone else. In any manner. So why should I be held accountable to a different standard then anyone else?
I was stunned. This was not what I wanted.
Upon reflection I realized that what I really wanted was to explore the meaning of life in my own way, and to share that exploration with others who can choose to join me if they’d like. They don’t have to. But, I welcome the company if they are so inclined. That’s what being a Deacon means to me. Not to be held up to some artificial standard of living that is defined by others who have no idea who I am.
I am who I am.
I stepped down from my official position as Deacon in my church. But I am still Deacon Dan. I have to be who I am.