Fun Things About Ministry, Post #1

I’ve been thinking about some of the fun things that I get to do as a pastor. Not everything that a pastor does is fun. Along with countless other vocations, pastoral ministry is challenging and there are things about it that are difficult. So, I thought for the next few days I’d highlight a few things that have noticed about my recent experience of being a pastor that are thoroughly enjoyable.

#5- Encouraging Parents

The obvious: parenting is challenging. I feel that being a parent has the potential to bring out the best and the worst in someone, sometimes in the same 24 hour period. Parents have the potential to carry a lot of condemnation about their parenting. It feels like culture takes a routine opportunity to suggest that many ills in our world are from poor parenting. That may be the case. But, hearing that over and over again takes its toll on the human heart. Parents are acutely aware of times that they have stumbled as a parent; those memories do not fade very easily.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a voice, an other perspective “pick up” these dear ones in our communities?

A Spoken Word artist Listener wrote a song called “Wooden Heart” with the opening line, “We’re all born to broken people on their most honest day of livin’.”

Being a parent has the potential to be a great “eye-opener” to what is important. People who are not parents have similar experiences without kids. But, I imagine under the relatively “normal” circumstances, when a parent welcomes a child into the world, it is indeed a “proud and honest moment.”

Imagine how that proud and honest moment could turn into a constant reminder of struggle, pain, mistakes made, and loss.

Yeah, our parents need to be picked up. They need to have someone grab both of their shoulders and look deep into their souls and confess, “You’re doing a great job. Keep it up.” Much like a coach who wraps his/her arm around a player that has just missed an opportunity in the game, parents need someone to remind them that the game is not over yet, to brush off the dust, to join the huddle, to get back in and to enjoy themselves as they keep playing the game.

Parents, you are doing an awesome job. May God’s grace envelope and comfort you. May you feel the empower presence of Christ as you lead in your homes.

Observation at Starbucks

I’m here at Starbucks getting some end-of-the-week work finished. I am listening to a couple guys (with Bibles open) talking to one another in the store. Here are a couple of observations and thoughts from what I see:

– They are not really having a conversation. They are taking turns telling each other what they know so that the other will either be impressed or too intimidated to ask questions. It is as if they are talking past each other. I’ve done that before… maybe now that I see it from the outside, I’ll try to do it less.

– There is absolutely no chance that anyone else can enter their conversation. It is quite normal to expect to spend time with a friend in a public place without having a fear of being bothered. I get that. But, how cool would it be for a curious bystander to want to join a conversation about God? I’ve been there, though, and I hope that I can be a bit more aware of my surroundings and, if someone is curious to join a conversation that they can already hear because we are in close-quarters in a public place, I would be open to that.

– Next, from what I can hear, there are a lot of “most preachers out there… most Christians out there are like…” types of comments being being used regularly. It seems that we Christians are good at characterizing “the other,” or sketching all people of a certain sociological make up without really getting to know “the other.” I do that, and I hope that I do less of it, down the road.

– A lot of the stories that they are telling are things that other people have done, in a foreign country, stories that they have read in a book or heard from another person’s sermon, etc. It makes me wonder why we don’t have our own stories to tell. Perhaps we have relegated God’s work in our lives with simply more fact-finding, data-gathering, rather than actually “doing the stuff.” I know that I have to tell stories of other people’s experiences with God because, at times, my faith is pretty boring. Perhaps it is boring because my own faith takes more of a theoretical shape, rather than a vibrant, lived experience.

Yesterday I was able to have a different type of conversation at a different Starbucks location. I, with two others, shared our life experiences, our struggles and deep questions, were able to affirm and lift one another, and (if we had the elements) we all agreed that it was an appropriate time to take communion afterwards. That type of unique-but-ordinary community is what we were created for. May each of us find those types of sources of life.