I’m not sure I knew what I was getting myself into when I married Pastor Jason. Nor do any of us who sign up for marriage, children, medical school, semesters abroad, adopting a pet or any other new venture we begin in life. There are lots of pastors and preachers in my extended family but I didn’t grow up in a pastor’s home and really didn’t think it would change my life that much. After all, I went to church a lot. Like, almost always. That’s got to translate to something right? I figured I would show up a lot and volunteer for a few things and call it all in a days work. Sounds fine, right?
People, being a pastor is not for the faint of heart. And neither is being the pastor’s family. One of my running buddies Brent says I really only meet 1 of the 10 requirements for being a pastor’s wife. To this day I’m not sure what the 10 things are or which one I am fulfilling. What I do know is that sometimes the phone rings in the night and it’s not for me. I know that pastors get caught late at work dealing with the hurting, broken and disheartened just as much the gynecologist does. I know that some days at the church are full of joy and some are full of doubt.
Today I sat next to Pastor Jason as we heard a challenging sermon from Luke 18. In the passage we hear of a relentless widow who will not accept injustice from her society. In the parable recounting this vulnerable woman’s experience we learn about the hope and restoration that God aches for. I was reminded that this is really what the pastors I am surrounded by are doing. On a daily basis the men and women in clergy are working to restore peace and bring mercy for the rest of us. They usher us into worship, bring us the truth of the gospel; they teach our children to love others and be brave and kind, they shape our young people into adults who can change the world. Or, like Pastor Jason, they sit with the wounded and weak, pray with the sick and dying and listen to our deepest fears and hurts.
October is clergy appreciation month. Each week I am thankful for the faithful and thoughtful community we are surrounded by, in our local church and by those in ministry near and far. The work clergy do is wonderfully exhausting. It happens at all hours of the day and night; it interrupts meetings and dinner and sometimes even other church work. Your pastor deserves to know that you recognize their work is difficult and valuable. When I really reflect on what life as a pastor is about I am faced with the profound words of Isaiah 58: 6-7.
“6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin? ”
If you have a pastor or other clergy leader, please know that they are working daily and weekly to undo the injustices for the most vulnerable in this world. Please know that they sacrifice their time, their families, their financial gain for the work of the Church. If you don’t have a clergy member in your life I hope you find someone to lead you in your spiritual life who will pound on the doors of injustice, who will share bread with you and with the least among you, who will do the most for the least of these. Then you know you have found someone who will lead you into the ways of God. And if you, like many of my dear friends, have experienced injury and hurt from the church, take heart. Find one of the many voices of truth from across the nation and listen to them in the hopes that your faith in the people who do the work of God is restored (see my list below).
I hope this week you find yourself being ministered to and being thankful for those who do the hard work of ministry. I know Pastor Jason deserves more thanks than his family of girls does on a daily basis and we could not do life without him. After all, your pastor is human, hopefully doing the best he or she knows how to do. And just like me when I said a resounding “yes” to the Pastor, they probably didn’t realize what they were getting into when they answered the call to ministry.
A few of my favorites you can find on twitter and listen to on their pods
@D_Quan87 and his pod HCN Weekly Sermons
@RichardRohr_OFM and his Homilies podcast
@jonmiddendorf and the pod of Oklahoma City First Church of the Nazarene
@bobgoff and bobgoff.com
@shawna_SG and shawnasongergaines.com
@michaelrpalmer and michaelrpalmer.com
@tarabeth_82 and tarabethleach.com