If You're Gonna Be a Pastor, You've Got to Have the Outfit

I have for some time dreaded putting on the uniform. The black and whites. The collar. The physical sign of the Office of Preaching which the Church has recognized for millenia.

I dreaded it because it reminded me of my failures. I dreaded it because of the burden that it represented. All those sins. All those messed up lives of my flock. All of the things that I couldn’t do even if I wanted to do so. I hated wearing it. I would avoid it. I can sympathize with pastors who want to wear ties or polos or clown suits or whatever. It makes the burden of the Office seem less real, more light hearted or business like. Simpler.

This is a trial that any pastor who takes his Call seriously probably undergoes to some degree or another. But depression puts this under a microscope, so that you look at every failure, every disappointed look or unfulfilled promise, as simply one more bit of proof that you are not worthy to exist, that God doesn’t love you, and that nothing really matters anyway. This is why I would argue that while depression is a bio-chemical imbalance or situational in nature, that there is almost inevitably a spiritual element involved. It is hand made for Satan to use to lure us away from the sure promises of the Gospel and into ourselves.

I’ve started wearing my collar again. Maybe it’s a sign of healing. Maybe it’s a sign of understanding on my part. The collar tells me first that A) it’s not my office but Chirst’s), B) I am not alone in anything that I do, and C) That all I have to give is what God has given me to give.

Maybe this isn’t any great revelation for you. It’s something that I learned in seminary from the first time I questioned it. But I am slowing coming back to seeing wearing the collar not as a matter of slavery but liberation. It frees me to have my own problems, wants, desires, and emotions. But it also frees me to give to my sheep what they need, whether I feel like giving it or not.

-DarkMyRoad

6 thoughts on “If You're Gonna Be a Pastor, You've Got to Have the Outfit”

  1. Hah. The collar is an interesting part of the job, and often causes anxiety for many of us. One thing that has stuck with me throughout this year has been the (most probably erroneous as far as historical fact) words of a pastor of mine, that the collar itself is a sign that derives much of its meaning from the slave collars of antiquity. Here’s to being a slave! Happy St. James the Elder day :-).

    jWinters.com

  2. Hah. The collar is an interesting part of the job, and often causes anxiety for many of us. One thing that has stuck with me throughout this year has been the (most probably erroneous as far as historical fact) words of a pastor of mine, that the collar itself is a sign that derives much of its meaning from the slave collars of antiquity. Here’s to being a slave! Happy St. James the Elder day :-).

    jWinters.com

  3. Whatever it may be, it does sound like progress.

    Satan uses whatever means he can to attack God’s people, and he doesn’t run from those who preach God’s Word, or from their families. He can create and use chemical imbalances and subconscious messages just as well as anything else. It probably is one of the easiest ways to attack men who passionately care for God’s people. Luther himself was prone to paralyzing depression, but rightly attributed it to Satan’s attacks, whatever else might have been going on in his brain that he had no clue about.

    God’s mercy can be in the anti-depressants or in the practical words and listening skills of the counselors that our modern world provides – just as the surgeon’s skill is a gift from God. But they are most especially in the words of absolution, the love shared in His word, and in the prayers of His people, lifted up for you.

    God bless.

  4. Whatever it may be, it does sound like progress.

    Satan uses whatever means he can to attack God’s people, and he doesn’t run from those who preach God’s Word, or from their families. He can create and use chemical imbalances and subconscious messages just as well as anything else. It probably is one of the easiest ways to attack men who passionately care for God’s people. Luther himself was prone to paralyzing depression, but rightly attributed it to Satan’s attacks, whatever else might have been going on in his brain that he had no clue about.

    God’s mercy can be in the anti-depressants or in the practical words and listening skills of the counselors that our modern world provides – just as the surgeon’s skill is a gift from God. But they are most especially in the words of absolution, the love shared in His word, and in the prayers of His people, lifted up for you.

    God bless.

  5. Darkmyroad,
    glad to hear the progress made in your life. Regarding the collar, I learned I needed to wear it not so much to remind the people who I was, but almost entirely to remind me of who God has called me to be.
    Regarding the slavery and freedom issue, this week in the 3 year lectionary, Jesus notes that the people are like sheep without a shepherd. On vacation last week I talked with a lot of people who saw total independence to do what they want to do as their version of the good life. But give me the Good Shepherd any day, even if He has to break my legs (or heart and mind in the case of depression) so He can bond me closer to Him while He carries me. To be anywhere else is to be a sheep without a shepherd – like the delicious roasted lamb I ate on Sunday night.

  6. Darkmyroad,
    glad to hear the progress made in your life. Regarding the collar, I learned I needed to wear it not so much to remind the people who I was, but almost entirely to remind me of who God has called me to be.
    Regarding the slavery and freedom issue, this week in the 3 year lectionary, Jesus notes that the people are like sheep without a shepherd. On vacation last week I talked with a lot of people who saw total independence to do what they want to do as their version of the good life. But give me the Good Shepherd any day, even if He has to break my legs (or heart and mind in the case of depression) so He can bond me closer to Him while He carries me. To be anywhere else is to be a sheep without a shepherd – like the delicious roasted lamb I ate on Sunday night.

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