When patience wears thin (a prayer for pastors)

Sometimes, dear God,
I give thanks for being a mother
before I was a pastor,
for the ways young children
taught me patience,
for the lessons I learned
from not being patient enough,
lessons I had to learn over and over
waiting for them to grow.

But when patience wears thin,
when the frustrating people
are far beyond childhood,
and never seem to grow,
when their ideas are set,
leave no room for your Spirit,
when the words they choose
strike like weapons against
kinder-hearted prey,

Help me, God.

Three women praying - fresco from Gondar church in Ethiopia, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.
Three women praying – fresco from Gondar church in Ethiopia, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

I will hold Jesus in my heart:
misunderstood
misinterpreted
misdiagnosed
(not only in his time)
—used to gain power
by partial quotes
and pious claims
and proud insistence,

Or willful ignorance,
our willful desire to ignore
the essence of the gospel
because it is so threatening
to powers
to principalities
to privilege.

When patience is thin,
help me, God.

Help me not to play the game
of one-upping
and last-word-getting
and mic-dropping.

Help me to know
when to press the point
and when to let things lie,
to be sparing with rebukes,
to see it when my own story
compromises me, yet
to be open to the strength
of righteous indignation
when You give the word,

in Christ’s name. Amen.

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