Shepherd’s Care: I Am My Self

I am not a psychologist or therapist, so in exploring the personhood of the clergy, I am not attempting to be comprehensive in my definition or analysis of personhood.  I simply want to write a few weeks on this subject, so that we can have time to recall and reconnect with our “being”—and not merely think of ourselves in terms of our “doing.”

Today, I want to ponder the phrase, “I am my self.”

There is a great temptation today to try to be like some other clergyperson—usually a person who seems to be well liked, and who has “made it in the system” whatever the system is.  Somehow, we can convince ourselves that we would be “good pastors” if we were like some other pastor we admire, or who is admired by others.

But the fact is, we only have one “self”—one core identity, one persona.  If we try to drape it in the garb of another, we suffocate and the draping falls to the ground sooner or later.  We are not made to be some other “self.”  We are made to be the unique and beloved persons God created us to be.

In addition to being an authentic self, we must also be a surrendered self.  E. Stanley Jones put it this way, “the self in your own hands is a problem and a pain; the self in God’s hands is a power and a potential.”  The self in my hands quickly becomes a game of comparison and competition; the self in God’s hands becomes an opportunity for consecration and commitment.

To be a clergy who is “person” (not role or function) means, at the very least, to be authentic and consecrated.  God will accept no substitutes for either of these things.  Neither must we.

About jstevenharper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
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One Response to Shepherd’s Care: I Am My Self

  1. Tom Pope says:

    Steve, thank you for this article today. As usual, the Holy Spirit used it to remind me that I am to be his unique vessel. So often we try to squeeze into the “cookie cutter” so that we will be accepted, respected, or whatever our current psychosis happens to be. Being who God made us to be is not as easy as it seems.

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