That helpful (and I use that term very loosely) little personality test I took the other day concluded by declaring me a Craftsman, and Creator. That's been rattling around in my brain the past couple of days or so, Craftsman and Creator.
It surprised me because in all honesty those are the two words I've described myself as wanting to be, as far back as my 20's. I always wanted to be a craftsman, a creator who day in and day out would steadily, patiently work on some delicate thing of beauty. Shaping and creating it's every curve and new design, the fine details would not escape me.
Like the guy who would take a year to shape and form a violin. Each day in the workshop, patiently waiting till the wood was ready and the vision was clear enough to make the first cut. Then going to work with focused attention, never pushing beyond the readiness of the wood or the clarity of the vision.
And Creator. That is just not a word that was even in my vocabulary when describing myself, until a few years ago. But I love to create. I just do.
I'm always looking for creative outlets. A well framed image, a beautiful website, a story told well, I just love the process of creation. The details, the effects, the processes. I get very frustrated when those parts of me are not working well, not creating something of beauty.
I've realized that those two words describe quite well the things of pastoral ministry that I enjoy very much. They are the things I've given myself to, in the ministry. Sometimes I've given myself too much to them, I've worked hard, maybe too hard, giving my best energies and efforts into crafting and creating. Not always a wise use of my life energy, but I did it none the less because I loved it.
And here I sit, near the end of my two month sabbatical after some 25ish years of ministry and I understand better why I have found patience after patience with difficult situations and people. How I have stuck with it and sought new ways to help people find their way. Because at my core I'm a Craftsman and a Creator.
Even as I type that, it's like seeing for the first time.
At my worst I'm like some hermited, driven artist pushed by some internal drive to create and craft a thing of sheer beauty, not resting until it's completed.
At my best I'm respected for my patience and hard work and stick-to-it ness, and the church begins to look differently. Healthy, hopful, alive.
For me, on a night like tonight, that is a breathtaking insight.
I can't blame God for calling me to a life's work that is demanding and sometimes unwieldy. I can only blame myself for answering a call to a couple of driving taskmasters like Craftsman and Creator.
Oh, there's nothing wrong with those two. I love what they give me, a sense of fulfilment and at the end of the day that's a good thing.
But when I make them my excuse, my reason for doing what I do, then I cross a line and shift the blame for my brokenness onto others, especially God.
A big part of my improving emotional health during this sabbatical, is how those things return to me. The Craftsman, and Creator parts of me. Are they returning in healthy ways.
The craftsman part of me wants to get back in there already and start shaping and crafting things for Autumn. That gives me hope. Near the end of my work I was pretty unable to craft anything of beauty, but I still had the push and drive to make something great.
But this Creator thing is taking it's sweet time to return, as you can tell by the distinct lack of creativity in this space. I am looking, praying actually, for a heart to create once again.
Nothing yet, but time isn't up yet.
That's not bad for an evenings revelation. It actually helps me understand myself much more.
At least this summer as my eyes seem to be getting older, (heading straight for bi-focal crapsville,) it seems I am getting smarter.
There is hope it seems.