The cool, the relevant, the upwardly mobile seemed to have a really hard time taking him seriously.
His friends simply wanted to be around him. There was a curious gravity to the life he was living.
He was accessible.
Being accessible is risky. You become exposed and vulnerable. This true self is clumsy, often at a loss for words, and has to ask forgiveness... a lot.
Does this describe the Christian leaders you know?
This week these words from Eugene Peterson sat weighty with me,
As a pastor, you’ve got to be willing to take people as they are. And live with them where they are. And not impose your will on them. Because God has different ways of being with people, and you don’t always know what they are. The one thing I think is at the root of a lot of pastors’ restlessness and dissatisfaction is impatience. They think if they get the right system, the right programs, the right place, the right location, the right demographics, it’ll be a snap. And for some people it is: if you’re a good actor, if you have a big smile, if you are an extrovert. In some ways, a religious crowd is the easiest crowd to gather in the world.
What I hear him saying is take the “extra” out of extraordinary and be little more ordinary. Be aware of the temptation to run with the speed and sensationalism of the empire.
Slow down. Be less spectacular. Be more of yourself.
These past 5 years my teachers have been the chronically homeless community who could care less about ordination or my seminary degree. They’re teaching me that credibility and gospel come most powerfully once I learn to stop acting like I have something to prove.
I truly believe these teachers of mine grant me a gift that many Christian ministers simply don’t possess. Proximity to the poor has encouraged me to remove the masks I wear, step further away from the pace of relevance, and know that vulnerability comes before accessibility.
The journey from extraordinary to ordinary is often a painful one.
It’s a way of transparency and humble exposure.
Like a detox for the ego.
In his book, In the Name of Jesus, which was written twenty-five years ago, Henri Nouwen explains,
“The Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.”
It would seem that this present moment is that future that Fr. Henri mentioned and right now is that time for more ordinary, vulnerable, even awkward leaders to emerge.
The accessibility of Jesus is the Good News and it's so painfully ordinary and awkward sometimes that we impatiently overlook it in search for something better.