I heard a quotation from Pablo Picasso that I really enjoyed and that I have spent some time thinking about:
“If you want to honor your grandpa, you can wear his hat or you can become a grandpa.”
We have people in our lives who do each of these. We have those who can show an affinity for an issue or topic by recounting its history, telling a story, or arguing its case when the occasion calls for it. We also have those who don’t just speak of how being a “grandpa could be,” but who go ahead and jump into experience the full reality. One is removed, partially informed, passionate, but still speculative. The other is involved, fully informed, sympathetic, and concrete.
From a pastoral ministry perspective, I prescribe that we take the “becoming a grandpa” approach. Ministry is challenging, rewarding, and honorable. Speaking about what “ministry could be like” all the while wearing a “minister’s hat” is awkward and marginally-helpful. Critique without participation usually receives “eye-rolling” reactions. Critiquing and all-the-while participating opens up new possibilities. (Ask Jesus of Nazareth and Saul of Tarsus)