Just want to mention, today marks ten years for me in the office of pastoral ministry. I've been blessed. Almost all of that ten years has been in one congregation. Three weeks of it in another. I guess from an early age I kind of knew this is what I would end up doing. And it has all the trappings of a life's calling for me. Honestly, every once in a while I begin to contemplate what else I might do, when the road gets a little rough. I'm always at a loss. I find myself thinking I'm too ashamed to beg, and just not cut out for any other kind of work, so I plan on securing my future the same as always, but forgiving debts in the name of Christ. The favor is often enough reciprocated.
Ten years, about that long and all the wetness behind the ears begins to dry out, your eyes are opened a bit more. Perhaps it jades a few. And I often wonder if it has jaded me a little. The only cure is forgiveness. No, I came into this job because I realized as a younger man that people can go to church their whole lives and never hear of how Jesus Christ died for their sins. Never hear the gospel. I wanted to do something about that, at least for a few. That is still my goal. So I try to know nothing but Christ and him crucified among those to whom I preach. Amazing though how the Old Adam swims as he circles the drain of death. Always bobbing up to blurt out law. I can look back on a few disasters, thankful Christ forgives those too.
A few years ago I remember reading that most pastors wash out of the ministry in five years. It can be a stressful job. Even more so if you expect everyone will understand the gospel. As a pastor, you have to learn to deal with rejection. And the rejection can be harder than the day your armpits got all sweaty as you asked that girl to the dance back in junior high only to be laughed at. There are some congregations out there that seem to pride themselves on being able to chew a pastor up and spit him out. They think they are training him. I've run into a few parishioners like that over the years. I have to marvel at the audacity of it. I even had an old woman say it to my face. Just something a bit arrogant about that, you know, taking the Spirit's job from him, and thinking you can do it by being hardnosed and belligerent, generally just giving the pastor a hard time. I find that the congregations that have those attitudes stay small, and never have a pastor long enough for their to be much growth. (Not that there will be any growth in a congregation that is fighting with each other and a pastor anyway. Most people don't wake up Sunday morning looking for a battlefield.) I feel bad for the friends I've seen chewed up and spit out by them. Rather thankful for the congregation that had it's ups and downs, but when it was all said and done supported me when I needed it. Happy also to be in a new congregation to grow and learn with, a new flock to cherish and care for. Makes me look forward to the next ten, and then.