Over at Ministry Matters, there’s a great post on the common notion of priests and pastors needing to be always ready set aside everything for their ministry. In it, author Drew McIntyre looks at the question of pastors being servants or saviors, drawing on imagery from the recent Batman vs Superman film.
How does Superman choose when to intervene in the world?
Even Superman can’t be everywhere at once. Even Superman can’t be on duty all the time. Even Superman needs a nap every now and then.
This pervasive mythology about pastors and other caring professions — that we are “on” all the time, that we never get to take time off, that we are “never off duty” — is not only wrong, it is sinful.
Sabbath isn’t just a command for those who aren’t “professionally” religious, but applies to all of us. And denying that to ministers (and other care-givers) is a kind of sin in that it denies the way of life God is inviting us into. And clergy that deny it and faith communities that allow it (or worse, encourage or expect it) are spiritually unhealthy.
We are servants, not saviors. Or, as a prayer attributed to the martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero says, we are ministers and not messiahs:
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.