This is the time of the year when I must admit I become a little bit envious of all you pastors and leaders in the church. No, I am not envious of the multiple board meetings you sit through or the financial balancing act most of you perform. I would never be envious of your mood swings from Sunday to Sunday, predicated by the weather, church attendance, quality of your sermon or a cantankerous sound system. I am not envious of the complex expectations that require you to be all things to all people at all times or your 24/7 responsibilities. I am sure Beverley, my wife, is not envious of your spouses' fish bowl existence or the many hours that call you away from your family.
But I am a bit envious — in a righteous way — of your opportunities over the next few weeks as a pastor. I loved the busyness of the holiday season. I didn't resent the many hours of planning that went into the services from Thanksgiving to New Year's. The sights and sounds that accompanied these days energized me.
I can still sense the excitement of that first holiday Sunday as the choir entered to "Come, Ye Thankful People , Come." Then it was off to the races — if you will — preparing baskets for shut-ins and the needy; lighting the first Advent candle; hanging the greens; Sunday school parties; trips to the nursing homes to sing carols, take cookies and let those who were lonely feel loved and included. Wow, do I ever miss all of that!
There was always that tired, but happy feeling I had as I drove home from one of those blessed holiday events, thinking how thankful I was to be called pastor. What a treat it was to serve a congregation that was filled with thanksgiving because of the many ways God had touched their lives and who prayed for my family. And I had the privilege of leading those wonderful folks from Thanksgiving to Christmas and into the New Year. How much better could it get?
I pray you feel this way as you read these words. Let there not be one utterance of the negative as you face the most beautiful time of the year.
Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.
Let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 105:1; 100:4; 34:3)
Happy Thanksgiving, my pastor colleague! We thank God for you.
Ever feel like you need to wear a mask to cover up who you are? Are you concerned that, if people knew who you really are and how you really felt, they wouldn't understand?
One minister, two jobs and the family that's at the top of the list. The number of bivocational ministers, those in full- or part-time ministry who carry an additional job, is estimated by some researchers to be as high as 30 percent of ministers nationwide.
"You should see the church they attend," Lucille said, armed with bulletin and newsletter. Creases formed across my brow as celebration gave way to comparisons a trap that had sprung too many times.