Actors in the film industry often talk about the idea of being type-casted, that is, being cast repeatedly in the same type of role. For some, this notion is exciting. In watching the Academy Awards tonight, I’m reminded that many have won Oscars for playing the same role over and over again until they have perfected it. For others, this notion is unsettling. If they keep playing the same role over and over again, will anyone ever be able to picture them in a different role?
Pastors can also be type-casted in a certain role. Take, for example, the roles of an installed pastor and an interim pastor. Some pastors feel called to be in an installed position for an extended period of time. They’re the “cradle-to-grave” types, a term I first heard when I did a Clinical Pastoral Education internship as a chaplain in a hospital one summer in seminary. Others prefer interim positions. Whether they need or want a contract for a set period of time, or whether they have particular gifts in helping a congregation work through any conflicts and prepare the way for their next installed pastor, there are those who feel called to interim ministry.
Then there’s another type: those of us who have been serving as an interim pastor when we feel called to be an installed pastor.
I have recently been serving in interim roles due to the geographic restrictions of my husband’s career: he needs to live in or near a city with a medium-large hub airport. In order to accommodate both of our vocations, I’ve been serving as an interim pastor in the greater Atlanta area for the past five years.
But my heart longs to be an installed pastor. Moreover, I know Christ has called me to be an installed pastor.
Don’t get me wrong. I have loved experiencing different congregations, seeing different ways of being church, and getting to know the amazing people that make us the Church. And, yes, I do have gifts in conflict management and in preparing the way for the next generation of leadership. At the same time, I know I am one of those cradle-to-grave types. I love getting to know and being in relationship with people for the long haul. The kind of relationship where we discover and grow in Christ together. Where we learn to trust each other. Where we begin to see and cast a vision that is bigger than ourselves – a God-sized vision that is only possible because God is with and for us.
So I’m doubling down. I’m doubling down on Jesus’ call on my life. I’m seeking an installed position with a congregation that sees the Kingdom life of a disciple as an adventure. In running language, I’m seeking a congregation that sees ministry together, not as a 5K sprint, but as a marathon. And I’m trusting the One who’s coaching us every step of the way.
Jesus Christ is in it for the long haul with us. Are we willing to be in it for the long haul with Jesus Christ and His Church?