Don’t Give Yourself Away

When we are in ministry, we offer ourselves to others, for God’s sake, for the sake of those we serve, and yes, for our own sake. Ministry is not just about giving to others, nor is it, of course, merely about aggrandizing self. Ministry is about our relationships (with individuals and with the congregation), and about giving out of our deepest self without giving ourselves away.

We will find it hard to give without giving ourselves away unless we have a strong prayer life. At the same time, we can find it hard to sustain a prayer life amid the demands of ministry. But for pastors it is the better part of valor to take the time for prayer and spiritual practice. A deep relationship with God helps us sustain relationships over time.

2 replies on “Don’t Give Yourself Away

  • Margaret Marcuson

    Thanks for this useful distinction, Israel. Perhaps an ongoing, substantive prayer life, can also help us develop our core self and learn how to protect ourselves from those who inappropriately seek to trespass on it.

  • IGalindo

    Prayer is a fundamental spiritual discipline that can “cover a multitude of sins” and keep us centered. I find that remembering the concept of the psuedo self and core self can also help discerning to what extent it is appropriate to give ourSELVEs away. To oversimplify, the pseudo self is that part of us that we can appropriately share with others–and when appropriate, it’s the part of ourselves that we can allow others to “borrow” with little risk of invasiveness or toxicity. For example, when another person is in emotional crisis and lacks personal resources of inner strength we often allow them to “borrow part our our pseudo self” to get through. Perhaps we can frame that as “bearing another’s burden.”

    But to give away our core self–that inner part that makes us who we are, is inappropriate and harmful. Those who insist that we do are invasive, and those who are willing to give that part up are treading dangerous territory. Our core self consists of things like our identity, our values, our will, and our capacity for self-determination. Clergy, or others, who demand that others give up that core self–by subjugating their identity, giving up their will, handing over responsibility for their thinking to another, or requiring devotion–are practicing a form a spiritual abuse.


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