Monday, December 07, 2009
I have worn many hats in recent days.
I have been a janitor who unloaded each trash bin in the fellowship hall following coffee hour yesterday, pulled trash piling high in an office that someone had vacated, and also took away the cakes left in the refrigerator from a late October dedication celebration.
I have been a preacher - an individual who wrestled with texts and tried hard to create a collection of words that would somehow seep into the souls of those who heard it.
I have been a parking attendant - someone who arrived early to place parking cones on the street so that our older members could have a place to park right out front and then place the validating machine where it needs to be on Sunday mornings, double checking the tickets of people to make sure they would not have to pay for their Sunday parking.
I have been a pastoral counselor - someone who has listened to the frustrations, the anxiety and the loss of others around me.
I have been a coffee maker and cook - someone who arrived early on Saturday morning to make sure that coffee pots would have plenty of coffee brewing in them for our guests arriving for the Alternative Gift Fair and then someone who got up early this morning to make taco fixings for dinner with the Finance Committee meeting tonight.
I have been a business executive - someone who has carefully reviewed budget requests from different ministry teams and answered questions of our District Superintendent about how our finances are going.
I have been a decorator - someone who carefully clipped coupons and watched the ads so that the church could get the best deals on greenery and wreaths, someone who unwrapped poinsettias and carefully placed them in the sanctuary.
I have been a pastor. I have been the wearer of many hats. I have been one who never knows what a day might hold and one who has journeyed through many days doing tasks that no one trained me to do - tasks that could never be found in a job description.
Not long ago, I was having a conversation with a young candidate for ordained ministry who shared with me how they were not sure they could lead a study on Sunday mornings before worship because "Sundays are already long days." I keep thinking about this person's comments and other comments like them that I have heard from individuals who are in seminary, preparing for ministry.
I know of no other job that demands more than being a pastor. I also know of no other job where many people have accepted the mundane as what is faithful - where many people go with the flow and forget the call for excellence and faithfulness. I know of no other job where someone works so hard and gets so much criticism. And, I know of no other job that I would rather have. I cannot imagine any job that I would enjoy more than that of being a pastor.
When I was talking on the phone this morning with my coach, mercifully complaining about the Board of Ordained Ministry and my responsibilities as a member, my coach asked me what keeps me on the Board. I shared my love of the church - my desire to see the church at its best - my hope for pastors who will do everything that is required of them and more whether it is taking out the trash, hosing down the steps, staying up late to wrestle with scripture, meeting yet another person for coffee, setting aside additional time for visioning, and showing up with their A-game as much as possible. I shared how I want the church to thrive - to be a place where lives are transformed, sins are left, lepers are cleansed, and the lame walk. I shared how I want to see something wondrous happen with our churches - how I want to see the kingdom - on earth as it is in heaven.
My friends who are studying for ministry, Sundays are long days. The Sunday school class, the worship service, and the meeting that follows are only half of the real picture. You're in for very long days and a demanding schedule. But, you're also in for a life that none of us really deserve but for whatever reason, we have been allowed to experience.
Thank you, God, for my call to ministry. Thank you for affording me the privilege of being a pastor.