I must confess I didn’t make church on Sunday. I had gone to the RV show in St. Louis on Saturday which meant a lot of walking. Why go, you ask? Lonnie thinks that he wants to live in an RV when he retires and he wanted Kenny and I to come along and take a look. (Look! Shiny things!) Plus I was lacking a good nights sleep for 3 nights in a row prior to Saturday, which meant taking a muscle relaxant Saturday night so I could actually sleep. Long story short, I overslept on Sunday morning! Oops!
Sleeping in meant that I missed the big announcement at church, which I got a phone call about later in the afternoon. Jeff is officially retiring from ministry at the end of June. Now I have to say this was not exactly a huge shock but it was still a surprise none the less. It was the last piece of one of the puzzles that I have been pondering for a bit. You see, prior to this, Jeff asked me to serve on Staff Pastor Parish committee (otherwise known as PPR). Now you need to understand, I would do anything to help Jeff out and I would do whatever I could to help out at church but one thing that I do not like helping out with is being on any sort of committee! It’s like oil and water-committees and I just don’t mix! I much prefer flying low under the radar because you can get so much more done! On a committee, you are a public member and people notice you. Being noticed is not real high on my list of priorities in life. I’d much rather do what needs to be done and do it quietly! Jeff knows this all too well and yet, he asked. He seemed sincerely urgent in the request and because it was Jeff, I said yes (like a noodge, I might add!) Now, I understand why he asked!
The committee will be meeting with the District Superintendent to discuss the upcoming search for a new minister to take Jeff’s place. Oy! Talk about pressure and high profile! I don’t know a lot about the process, all I do know is we will most definitely be in the thick of things!
I believe that to be a minister you really REALLY have to be called and know it in your heart and soul! It’s not an easy job. You move to a new church and community every few years and if you are married, you have family in tow, who also have to adjust to the new surroundings. You live in a fishbowl. You are the public face of that congregation in that particular community. You deal with long time members and also new ones. Competing demands, trying to craft a vision for the future that matches the mission, all the while keeping things running smoothly. Not an easy task for a mere mortal! The reason I know a little about this is because when I was a teenager, I used to babysit for my minister. You want a dose of ministerial reality try babysitting for the head of the church! I got to see first hand the juggling act that goes on behind the scenes trying to balance family life with church life! The endless phone calls, the demands for meeting times that don’t necessarily bode well for family schedule. It’s not easy! It’s not easy for the minister, the spouse or the children! It is a well orchestrated, delicate balancing act for all involved! There is no way that an individual could endure that sort of scrutiny and demands on time unless they were truly called! It gives new meaning to the phrase “there but by the Grace of God go I!“ If people realized just how difficult it can be to be the minister, maybe they could be a little more sympathetic. Do I fully grasp the entire picture of life as a minister? Probably not, but I do have a unique perspective on the topic.
Now do you understand my distraction? Here I am, on a committee that will be responsible for helping in the selection process of a new minister. That’s a big honking deal! I hope and pray that we are able to clearly enunciate the congregation’s expectations and I hope we are able to find someone who wants to be here as much as we want them to be here. And I hope that I am that listening ear for the individual appointed to our church. Ministers are people too! Sometimes, we forget that fact!
Keep our church, the committee and our future minister in your prayers please. I think the next six months are going to be quite an adventure! Pardon my distraction, but it is for a very good reason! I’ll try to keep you posted!