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Rev. Jes Kast-Keat is on holiday this week and asked Rev. Annie Reilly to guest blog. Annie is the pastor of a small Presbyterian Church in Schenectady, New York.
If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. -1 Corinthians 12:16-17
I’ve been feeling like a foot recently. I know that it isn’t very productive or wise, but I’ve been caught in the trap of comparing myself to others. I see friends who are out at protests, with their baby in tow. I read blog posts and see videos of other ministers who are engaged in really progressive public theology. I have breakfast with pastors who have a large staff and a thriving youth group. I see all these strong, beautiful, working “hands” with major reach and very robust ministries, while I’m this stinky, little “foot” trying to make it to all my committee meetings.
It’s not purely professional envy, while I will admit that is some of it. What this “foot” feeling primarily has done is make me feel like I’m not doing or being enough. I’m not a trailblazer. I’m not an activist. I’m not drumming up Twitter followers or negotiating a book deal. And if I’m not doing these things, then I’m clearly not an important part of the Body of Christ.
It’s a good thing that Paul could anticipate our human capacity for jealousy, comparison, and the resulting “foot” feelings. Or perhaps this is a condition as old as the Church itself. The Body of Christ takes all sorts of members; from the trailblazers to the committee members, from the stay at home moms and retired engineers. But even with all of Paul’s encouragement and reassurances, I’ve still found myself needing a plan for when I start down the path toward feeling a little “footsy”.
First, when I’m feeling like I’m not doing enough activism or justice work, I am reminded of the important work of amplification. As a person with a fair bit of privilege, often the best thing I can do is to shut my mouth. Listening is good and faithful work, even when I hear angry voices that challenge and discomfort me. Then I can use my position of privilege to amplify these voices on social media, in my sermons, and in my conversations. I might not be able to always get to the march or make it to lobbying day, but I can still partake in justice work by holding a microphone to those speaking from front lines.
Second, when I’m feeling like I’m not enough- when I’m not doing or being enough to feel really valuable in the Body of Christ- I need to remember how important it is that I exist. There are people who need to see a woman in a pulpit. There are little girls who see me and know that being a minister is a path they can choose. There are people who look at me and have their expectations challenged on what a pastor looks like or who church is for. I have been gifted and equipped for a particular time and place within the Body of Christ. I need to stop limiting God’s goodness by thinking that I had anything to do with it. When I root myself in the identity that God has given me, then I am already enough.