Well, I’m disappointed that I have already missed my goal of at least one post per week. A little illness and a trip out of town are the culprits. The wonderful thing is that there is, as is most often the case, a chance to begin again. I find this heartening, as I know I will disappoint myself and others regularly.
Being able to live with disappointing oneself and others is perhaps one of the hardest things for ministers to learn. It’s hard for anyone to learn, I suppose, but it really is impossible to survive in ministry if one doesn’t eventually get it. The wonderful thing about being “the new minister” is that I haven’t yet had time to disappoint that many people. However, I know that if I hang around long enough, I will.
Disappointment can come for many reasons. Someone may want me to do something that is out of my abilities (burst into song during a sermon would fall into this category). Someone may want me to do something I won’t either because I don’t believe in it or because I don’t believe it to be in the best interest of the congregation (I hesitate to give examples here and thereby give anyone ideas. Use your imagination!) Other times, I will disappoint someone simply because I am human.
Whenever I leave a congregation, as I have 3 times in the last 4 years, I include in my final sermon my apologies for the disappointments of my time there. Now that I am hoping to stay put for awhile, I wonder if I should offer my apologies upfront. Do not think here that I am being hard on myself. I am being realistic. Human relationships inevitability include disappointment.
My hope is that when we disappoint each other we will stay in relationship. That we will hang in there for the opportunity to understand, to forgive, and sometimes, to agree to disagree. If we hold out for only perfect relationships, we unnecessarily enlarge our disappointment to a cosmic level. Life itself will be a disappointment. If we can accept imperfections, and allow ourselves and others to begin again, then our disappointments can be momentary, and it will instead be the possibilities of our relationships that are enlarged.