Over the past month I’ve been telling the whole parish that they should come to gatherings at which I will be the main attraction. Honestly, these “Meet Your Rector” events have been amazing opportunities for me to share my spiritual journey with parishioners. But isn’t this the definition of conceit?
This is a treacherous path that the clergy trod. We can easily be wooed by ourselves into thinking that we are incredible people with amazing relationships with God. I even wear clothes that tell the world how pious I am supposed to be. It’s a running battle with conceit.
I know I’m not the first clergyperson to reflect on these issues. I encourage everybody to read T.S. Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral” to see the four tempters that haunt clergy (1. Material splendor 2. Worldly authority 3. Spiritual power 4. Desire to be martyred for your cause).
So what keeps me grounded? First and foremost, I pray. I sit my butt in my prayer chair and open my heart to God. I read through Morning Prayer, which starts off with confession. There’s really no better medicine for conceit than confession.
Second, I do manual labor. For instance, I mow our entire St. Augustine grass lawn with an old school push mower. It’s hot, it’s sweaty, and it takes a lot of time. But it’s my way of tapping into the Benedictine wisdom of performing manual labor in order to practice humility.
Third, I take my wedding vows seriously. Being married requires constant effort to think about the other rather than myself.
I have a running battle with conceit. Just the fact that I wrote this blog post proves it.