Thursday, August 15, 2013

Call Me Patch...

Ok, I don't know what's behind the blogging this week, but I've kind of missed it.  Who knows how long it will last.

I'm not a movie buff...not at all... Two hours is just entirely too much time to commit to something, and as a result, I very rarely sit down to watch a movie.  I have a 30 minute sitcom or 15 minute episode of SpongeBob kind of attention span...and that's about it.

Yesterday I watched "Patch Adams".  I haven't been able to get this one out of my head.  It came out nearly 15 years ago, but if you haven't seen it, don't worry, I won't spoil it. 

It was almost Jerry MaGuire'ish in that instead of "having me at hello," this movie had me from the very beginning, and I don't usually do that.  Why?  Because I can relate to Patch.  Having struggled myself with depression, then finally figuring out what I was made for, then realizing that I didn't fit the expected mold, and finally with the obstacles he faced as he came into his own.  Still not spoiling anything...who didn't see that coming?

Now...the reason it hit me so hard...

I love my job...can't even imagine doing anything else anymore (Except for the occasional bad day when I walk around saying to myself, "Where did I hang that tool belt?")  But what I have seen is almost a shift, from the focus being on loving the people and proclaiming the a focus on proclaiming the Word but "Don't do anything to get you slapped with a harassment suit."  Professional distance, we call it.  I get it.  I respect it.  I watch myself so closely because I know I'm being watched just as closely.  It's more than just a fishbowl kind of life, it's the reality of a changing world...but it's not going to change lives. 

I don't know that it's part of the decline of the church, but it could be.  When a patient becomes nothing more than their dis-ease, or a parishioner becomes just a number on the board after worship, we have a problem.  Folks are not stupid.  They know when they really matter to someone, or when they're just there to be counted.  Patch wanted to be the kind of doctor that made his patients know they mattered.  I want to be that kind of pastor. 

So...I have come up with three guidelines that, to a degree, have already shaped my ministry, but that I want to be more intentional about after having watched this movie.  They're not the same three I was given by a well meaning colleague when I entered the ministry: "Love the people...Don't piss off the UMW...Get the folks out at 11:55...and they will love you forever" (Direct quote, by the way)        

My three are this:
                 Love the People...
                        Be passionate about what you do...
                                 Break a few rules...

I've already been labeled a rebel in the Conference.  I'm really not...just different.  I've already broken some rules...but not just to break rules...they needed to be broken.  I don't want my ministry to just be my profession.  I want to change lives.  I believe Jesus once said, "It's not the well who need a doctor..."  Folks come to us, many times, and their lives are a mess...maybe even at their own hands...what they don't need are institutional rules and professional distance.  They need compassion.  Sometimes they need a kick in the pants, but we can do that and still let them know they are loved. 

I'll still leave my office door open when I'm counseling.  I'll still follow all of our safe sanctuaries protocol.  But if I'm going to be effective in my ministry, the folks coming through my door have to know that I love them and that they matter.  If a few rules get broken in the process, that might not be such a bad thing. 

BTW...the picture above is the real Patch Adams.   



No comments:

Post a Comment