Interview: Deepening Our Conversation with God (part 2)
January 1, 1997
Continued from previous page
But sometimes we feel insecure about all there is to do. How does a pastor
unlearn running out to do the urgent?
Foster: I was told in seminary that if I preached from the Old Testament,
I should study the Hebrew text. If I preached from the New Testament, I should
study the Greek text. I was told to spend time each week working on my sermon
delivery. Pastoral counseling, they told me, is crucial to my ministry.
I added up the time it takes to do all these things; the total was staggering.
Once in the ministry, I found out quickly that those things might build churches,
but they don't necessarily help people. I had to go back to square one and
ask, "What am I to do?"
The answer that came was "Love God and walk with him." Once the pastor is
settled and centered on that, the guilt feelings are gone.
Nouwen: It may well be that many pastors are insecure people, but
that can be an asset as well as a liability. Insecure people need social
contact. Many people with that kind of personality might choose the ministry
because that is a way of dealing with their need. I don't think that's bad.
One of the most beautiful ways for spiritual formation to take place is to
let your insecurity lead you closer to the Lord. Natural hypersensitivity
can become an asset; it makes you aware of your need to be with people and
it allows you to be more willing to look at their needs. In a sense, you
let your psychological trembling become trembling for the Lord; and you use
the insecurity of human relationships to develop a firm relationship with
Foster: The disciples are some of the best examples of that.
Nouwen: Your insecurity may be neurotic, but it may also lead to a
very deep spiritual ...