A Week in the Life
I suppose you could say I have made it a December tradition to do something a little different with January's newsletter article. The first months of 2014 and 2015 I made simple lists; "14 (and then 15) things you might not know about your pastor." This year I thought I would carry on the tradition…with a twist.
A book I once read described pastoral ministry as an odd and wondrous calling, and I would say it is pretty well accurate. Sometimes it's hard for me to answer what sounds like a very simple question. When someone asks "so, what is it that you do?" I often find myself beginning my response with "well….."
So, what is it that I do?
Well….I thought this year it might be fun to give you some insight into a week in the life of your pastor. This will be in list form, of course.
1. Sermon prep - I plan what I am preaching up to a month before (see January's scriptures and sermon titles in this very newsletter!) so prep really starts then. It is so crucial to keep your eyes, ears, and spirit open to what might happen in everyday life that speaks perfectly for a sermon. When I turn to write a week's sermon I read the passages in two or three study bibles and I reach for my trusty commentaries to hear what others have to say. I try hard to stick to one or two themes.
2. Sermon Writing - Wednesdays are my top choice day for sermon writing. I do not like to wait until the end of the week. The Spirit's going to do what the Spirit's going to do though. Sometimes I sit down with the highest intentions to write and nothing comes, other times I think nothing's there and it all comes out. Like I said before, it is truly odd and wondrous.
3. Worship planning -Yes, you can blame me for bulletin mistakes. Yes, you can blame me for power point mistakes (except when the power point has a mind of its own…that's not me). And yes, you can blame me if you don't like or we over-sing a hymn. But in all seriousness, worshiping God means everything to me and I do love to see worship come together each week.
4. Donut Tuesday! - Just how it sounds, Linda and I have a little tradition. I swing by Pettit's Pastry on my way in and we enjoy donuts Tuesday morning while we check in. Linda loves lemon powder and I love cream filled long johns.
5. Checking in - Every Tuesday Linda and I have a list for each other of things we have thought of that need to happen in the next week or two (we don't see each other Mondays). This very often happens while we have donuts, of course. Checking in is mostly about what's coming up in the life of the church, it's also a whole lot about what's going on in our own lives.
6. Praying and devotional reading - At the heart of being a pastor is to pray. I carry prayers with me in my heart and I try hard to find the quiet times to meditate on God's will and listen for what God would have me do.
7. Meetings - Ah meetings. Committee work is where the active ministry of the church is lived out. Committees come together to be accountable, to divide the good work, and to care for one another. I like to sit back and listen, and I love to watch committees grow and mature as they meet.
8. Session - Session meets once a month, but its work is always on my mind and always in front of me. While committees do the work, Session oversees the life of the church. I ask God one question again and again: what do you want FSPC to be and how do we faithfully become it? It's a big question.
9. Presbytery Committee Meetings - Sense a theme here? As minister I am dually called to serve FSPC and serve PMRV as presbyter. I am currently chair of Evangelism and Discipleship and have sat on a task force or two (that's not as cool as it may sound).
10. Time with colleagues - Every other week I meet with a large handful of colleagues for lunch. We take turns presenting professional issues, listening, and giving feedback. It is very life giving.
11. Theologian - We are all theologians, we all have thoughts, ideas, and responses to who God is. I continually seek to understand more about the goodness of God within and without the tradition I grew up in. What we do in the world, how we respond to crisis, how we show God's love to one another are directly related to our ideas of who God is.
12. Emails! - I absolutely love that FSPC has provided a laptop for the pastor's use. I get a lot of emails and I send a lot of emails.
13. Phone calls - Nothing beats a good old fashioned phone call though.
14. Pastoral Care - I quickly learned this takes on so many forms. Set appointments, folks stopping by the church, meeting in homes, phone, and email. So much of it is…
15. Listening - There is incredible power in an open and listening ear. It's not about having the answers; it's about letting the story be told.
16. Daddy - I cannot separate my life as father, husband, and family member from my life as pastor. Suzanne and I cannot express enough how much we feel the love for our growing family here.
Happy 2016! Together, let's make it great!