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Not Just for Pastors

February 21, 2021

The Rev. John Thomas Vidakovich
, long time RL closer-than-a-brother friend and colleague wrote this about a week ago, and it’s with his gracious permission that I share it with you here — 

An Open Letter to my younger and future colleagues:
Dear friends,
Once I was a young pastor. I was filled with fire in my belly and had many creative ideas about how the church could be saved and made relevant again.
There was only one problem. The old guys (and in my youth they were all guys). If they would just get out of the way and let us creative young clergy transform the church would revive and thrive.
But something happened to that dream. I got older (just like you will). I had kids getting ready to go to or currently enrolled in college. I needed the salary that often accompanies seniority.
Like all who preceded me, I aged out. The time came to retiree. It is the cycle of clergy life.
Now as I reflect on it I believe it will be different for you. The institution I served (and perpetuated) is taking its last breaths. The pandemic has taught us that what we once thought of as “world without end” is in fact ending.
That’s not all so bad. Everything has an expiration date and the structures and models of ministry our generation of clergy created are about to be pulled off the shelf.
And in turn, your generation and those that come after it will be the vanguard that will lead us into the future. As you listen to and follow the Spirit you will create a new expression of Christian community. The work will be hard and it will test your faithfulness to your calling.
There will be times you want to quit, but you won’t because you love God and God’s people too much.
The new task of my generation of clergy is to support you. To share the wisdom we’ve accumulated and to realize a new day and new way is right around the corner.
Yes, we may be grumpy and complain about you not doing church the way we did, but that is our problem. When we get that way maybe you could invite us to lunch and encourage us to remember that the criticism we give hurts just like the criticism we received when we were in your shoes.
To adapt a quote from the movie “The Help”, “you are smart and you can do hard things.”
I will be praying for you, watching for where to lend a hand and, more importantly, keep my criticism to myself.
Now lead on.
— Amen, Amen, and Amen!

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