He had been on life support for days, after being assaulted by a jail guard who weighed more than twice what he did. Last Thursday, that guard was sentenced to 90 days in jail for killing Shon.
If that feels like a slap on the wrist for abusing your power and killing someone who was powerless, you are not alone. Both me and my little community are angry and frustrated and sad… and on one level, not surprised at all.
This is the hard part of my job – being hurt, but in that hurt, ministering to those who are also hurting. I am not looking for validation or kind words or even your sympathy. This is the life I have chosen, and I am good at it and would rather be here than anywhere else on the planet.
Doesn’t mean it isn’t hard, however.
I was out of town this week when I heard the news. I was shaken, and a friend asked what had happened. She hugged me, and then asked what I planned on doing.
“I don’t have a choice,” I said. “I am going to do my damn job. I am these people’s pastor, so I am going to go home and act like one.”
Being on this path does not mean I do not hurt. It does not mean I do not feel pain, it does not mean I do not want to lash out. In fact, being on this path means I want to do all of those things. But being a pastor also means you have a job to do, and people who trust you and look to you for meaning and hope.
So today, my primary thoughts are not about Shon, but about fidelity to call and purpose. And in the midst of pain and anger, I will walk up to the podium in a few hours and speak words of hope, seeking not to not only convince the audience but also to convince myself. Because my people need a minister who is willing to do his damn job.