There are much harder jobs…many. I wonder, though, if there is a stranger one?
In all the years of being a pastor and having served churches of every size, the toughest and strangest part is the amount and scope of variety. On any given day I find I have about 50% of an idea as to what is going to happen that particular day. I keep a calendar and it has meetings of all sorts I know will take place, but there is another half of the day Jesus only knows – and the deal is He will share that with me in real time.
Call it how Jesus keeps pastors walking in faith.
‘The other half’ can literally be anything. Anything. It can be someone who left her Bible in the restroom – at least they brought it to church – and wants you to see if its there. (I have received that call). It can be a call that sends you to the Emergency Room because the situation is dire for their spouse, child, or friend. (Pastors get many of those too).
Sunday morning is no exception. On the way into worship I have been told about everything from funeral needs and diagnoses to security guards telling me, ‘Keep an eye on the balcony, someone has been writing threats in hymnals.’ And while that may seem new to you, anyone in ministry in the local church could add story after story that exceeds in every way anything I have mentioned. Just ask. In the case of the threats I asked the guard, ‘What do I do?’ He said, ‘It’s a big pulpit, duck.’
On a serious note, what I have learned over the years is that these stories do not go away. They stick. And while that is okay for a while, at some point every pastor has got to get away. Getting away allows pastors to reconnect with family, rest, and in some ways just unwind from everything he or she has crossed in the local parish.
So this summer if your pastor is not there, rejoice! Not because you are a jerk who has an agenda, but because they are human too. And if you know your pastor is away on Sunday do not be one of those lame Christians who does not show up at church – how weak is that! Get yourself up and go.
Because we are the church, and there are times you are going to need to lean on your pastor. And there are times your pastor needs a break and trusts you to be the church when he or she is away. Let’s all do our part!