17 October 2015
“No one presumes to teach an art that [one] has not first mastered through study. How foolish it is therefore for the inexperienced to assume pastoral authority when the care of souls is the art of arts.” So begins Part 1 of The Book of Pastoral Rule by St. Gregory the Great (aka Pope Gregory I). Written in 590, it is a classic work on pastoral care.
The art of arts. Be it through lack of study and/or experience, the care of souls is an art that this artist continually needs to perfect!
As I’ve mentioned before, my wife Banu and I are in a deliberate state of transition this year. We are currently pastors without an assigned parish. We’ve sometimes thought of this time as a sabbatical—something that in our previous 18 years of ministry, we never experienced.
At a time like this, working on an art such as the care of souls presents both challenges and opportunities. Not being situated as pastor of a congregation certainly presents one challenge. On the other hand, it also presents an opportunity. If we’re willing to take it, there are opportunities to explore this art outside of the immediate and specific congregational context. We have taken steps in that direction. That’s part of the emergent / emerging church sensibility.
Sabbatical or not, good art takes time, especially the art of arts!