>Every now and then I’m amazed at the sermons I hear in the middle of every day life. I caught one last night watching Criminal Minds on CBS. I sat down to watch some TV in an attempt to mentally escape from what seemed like a mounting pile of too much to do. Instead of escape, I found something more valuable. I was engaged by what was very much the voice of God for me at the moment.
In the video clip below, one of the main characters, FBI agent Hotchner is upset because a criminal had tried to play a mind game with him by offering a “deal” to stop killing if the FBI would stop hunting for him (it worked with previous agent mentioned in the video). When Hotchner refused to give in, the criminal went on a horrendous killing spree and several people died. The clip is of Hotchner trying to deal with the outcome of the situation:
Technical Difficulties (sorry!) watch the video clip here.
Agent Hotchner did something that I think many people do. I know I do it all the time. He does not differentiate himself from his work and wants to carry the responsibility for the actions of others while losing sight of the bigger picture that he a part of. I suspect we do this all too often…in our personal relationships, in our attempts to create change in the world. Like agent Hotchner, we do it in our professional work, also.
Maybe I’m speaking only for myself, but I think church professionals are particularly good at making this mistake. Pastors and other church leaders lose sight of the bigger picture we are a part of (that includes millions of us working together…with God at the center). We become susceptible to what Parker Palmer calls “functional atheism”, which is “the unconscious, unexamined conviction that if anything decent is going to happen here, we are the ones who must make it happen – a conviction held even by people who talk a good game about God.”
For me the sermon came in these words spoken to Agent Hotchner by a friend/co-worker: “That voice in your head…it’s not your conscience, it’s your ego.”
Again…maybe I’m the only one here…but maybe it is our own ego that brings us the most trouble. I suspect I’m not the only person that falls into this trap…and I’m fairly confident I’m far from the only pastor that can too often be found carrying the unecessary strain and scars of the functional atheism created by my own ego.