Responsibilities had me shook

“With great power, comes great responsibility.”
-Uncle Ben, in Spiderman

So I am an intern in ministry at Marsh Chapel, and a student-leader in religious life at BU, which means in some ways I have been given some sort of power and authority.

I mean, like, hey there. Did you know that I am an intern at Marsh Chapel and the Vice-President at SojournBU? Like, not to sound pretentious in any way or something, but like I am kind of a big deal. Like, I’m kind of second place in terms of student leadership at SojournBU, and like I got to preach last Thursday. Like, I am not saying I am a powerful individual, but, like, I am a powerful individual. Like, I kind of am important.

Joking aside, in some ways I do have a little bit of power and authority. This was addressed to me over and over again in a conversation about my previous blog post, Systematic Moral Responsibility  which I did clean up a little bit with a lot of footnotes and edits in order to fix some large issues it had(see the footnotes for further insight). I was so excited to talk about theories on moral responsibility, but it was pointed out that how I discussed my reflections on such a moral view could lead someone to believe that I accept victim-blaming, and then lead them to consequently accept victim-blaming themselves  which is not my intentions at all. My reflective words on an abstract moral theory could cause a victim harm, or further perpetuate dangerous harmful ideas. My words could do that.

Which makes all of this internship oh so much scarier.

In fact, I had that conversation and my eyes were opened to the now potential consequences of my actions Thursday afternoon, and that shook me up as I was about to preach later that evening.

I sat there up on the lectern side of the chapel, and started to pray to God, because I had a strong realization that these words ceased to have to do with just me – no, my thoughts were now going to be heard by people attending the services, and these words preached would now, in many ways, affect the lives of the people there.

I sat there and looked out at the random people, and immediately had a moment where I questioned whether I had any real reason to be up there about to preach.

And I had many moments since then where I questioned whether I had what it takes to be a minister if I so chose to go down that route after my undergraduate career.

I mean, think about this: I am a human being who is inevitably going to make some sort of mistake. No matter what, I will make a mistake because I am a human being, prone to failure. Now, I really do not mind owning up to my mistakes, and admitting that I have committed an error. I do not care about how awkward the situation is, I will own up to it, because I know that I am only human and, honestly, who am I trying to fool? I do not, in any way, have it all together. I, like everyone else, am just a human being trying to figure it all out.

But, as a minister, my actions could then have consequences that I have never considered before. Ministers have a large amount of authority. As a minister, my work could help people in wonderful ways, but, at the same time, a mistake could cause large amounts of harm to people in very destructive ways.

That is very scary. Also, I notably think about questions of theology, ministry, morality, human existence, and reality in abstract ways constantly. I have caught various occasions where this behavior has potentially harmed people close to me. Reflecting is great and all, but I cannot reflect too much – sometimes I need to be emotionally invested in the now. I need to be really careful of my words, because obsessing over abstracts can hurt people, as was pointed out further up in this blog post. At the same time, I know for sure that I cannot cease to care about abstract theories in theology with deep thoughtful reflection because I cannot run on autopilot in terms of my ideals and theories. This is, because theology is reactionary to society and culture, and holding on too tightly and unquestionably to my theology can become extremely toxic and harmful as well. I myself have personally experienced such harms of apparently “unquestionable” theology.

So, I will have to adjust my personal practices to better find that middle ground, and I need to be a little more careful with my words.

Also, if I really do end up going down that ministry road vocationally: well, then so help me God that I may be a vessel of Your love to others, and teach me to walk humbly, for I often miss the mark.

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