In one of my meetings with my parish community of faith group (the 4 people I met with weekly for a month to try and listen to what God was calling me to do) the group decided to outline what they thought were qualities a priest should have: a good pastor, a good preacher, a good administrator, can be tough or gentle when need be… the list continued as you can imagine.
My eyes grew wide as I grew silent. It reminded me of that scene in the beginning of Mary Poppins where Jane and Michael list the qualities they would like in the nanny:
And I’d be lying if I said I weren’t ready to leave the room then and there. As honest as they were in their description, I was intimidated. What’s the word for the opposite of a perfectionist? That’s the word that would describe me. Sure I know my strengths, but I also know my weaknesses and I’m pretty okay with them. My desk is never tidy. I have child-like handwriting. My dog cries when I sing. I consider my faith central in my life, but my biblical knowledge is amateur at best.
I’m no Mary Poppins.
But who is? (besides Jesus, Captain Obvious) I’ve met a lot of priests and not one of them completely filled my committee’s expectations of a priest. But most of them are still great priests. But for me, how can I give my life to a calling with impossibly high standards I know I can’t live up to?
I think the answer lies in remembering that I’m not alone in this. I have had and will continue to have great friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances to help me with my inadequacies. And God. It’s only with the help of all of these that perhaps I can become and thrive as a priest.