Curating Transformation

Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another. Seth Godin

I have had the privilege of quite a bit of reflection time this month on the cusp of a few months while our head of staff goes on sabbatical.

I have been pondering the heart of my role as a pastor. There are plenty of people who want to define that role for me and I field regular requests to lend my support to worthy causes. Over time, those requests begin to whittle away the “why” of what I do and it seems my role is to jump from church meeting to church meeting, filling the role of a figurehead and being the religious professional required to make certain decisions or bless appropriate actions. Which is most definitely NOT why I became a pastor.

But. What if I am an artist in the spirit of Seth Godin’s definition? What if the purpose of my work is to create opportunities for change? What if the focus of Sunday morning worship, meetings, and personal counseling is to create a context for transformation? Since I believe transformation happens through encounter (with God, others and my true self), then there could be no better job than pastor to make that happen.

A pastor is not just an artist of single works, a pastor’s artistry is in being a curator. Curating works of art (people, projects, services) that have the possibility to transform others and transform our world. Curating involves artful arranging and careful analysis. It requires making wise choices and using empty space as well as the artwork itself. Curating means taking a larger view and doing your best to allow other’s work to shine. The curator can only use what is available and works to connect past and present, the other and the self, and to tell a larger story with many smaller parts.

In the end, the curator has no control over the encounter. Each person who walks in has their own story that they bring to the works of art and to the collection itself. The curator gives their work back to become a new work in someone else’s life and trusts it will impart courage to create more transformation.

This image is working well for me as I look at the task of leading a faith community. It helps me keep my head above the piles of responsibility and expectations. And it gives me courage to act in a way that may create change in another.

How can your work be more a work of art?

  • Carol Joy Lutz

    Beautiful, Jenny. I love this metaphor of work as art. It reminds we of the revelation I had when cleaning out my mom’s house: I asked myself, what if cleaning out her house was my life’s masterpiece; how would that change my attitude about it? I try to keep Colossians 3:23 in my head when working at tasks that may be menial or monotonous.

  • Jim Robertson

    Jenny, may I recommend Mark Pierson’s ‘The Art of Curating Worship’. Mark has been ennunciating this concept for several years, and has well developed thoughts about the process.

    • Jenny Warner

      Thanks Jim! I do have this book and found his perspective really helpful. I think that is where the idea of curating came in at some point and am intrigued by the idea that all of pastoring can be curation in some sense.