November 10, 2005

No Choice

Every pastor knows the feeling. It is felt every so often, when the pastor is tired or frustrated or anxious. When the feeling comes, the pastor looks out the window and begins to fantasize; images of a nice little cubicle on the 37th floor of a building somewhere float into the pastor's mind. And the pastor imagines what it would be like to have a job that exists solely within the confines of that cubicle, a job that doesn't follow the pastor home, one that doesn't keep the pastor awake at night or away at meetings on the pastor's one "day off."

The pastor has, one more than one occasion, said, "Maybe I should quit ministry. It's too much for me. Maybe I should quit and find a normal job." The pastor has said this to himself or herself. If the pastor has a spouse, then no doubt the spouse has heard the pastor say this out loud. "Maybe I could find a job that is less stressful. I certainly could be making more money. I'll just quit and find another job...."

No matter how many times it is said, however, both the pastor and the spouse know this will never happen. The pastor can't choose to quit ministry, because the pastor never chose ministry in the first place. The pastor was called into ministry, and that call was irresistable. The pastor couldn't turn down that call if he or she wanted to.

I know. I tried.

And yet, amidst all the struggles and frustrations, there are also days that bring great joy to the pastor, days when the pastor thinks to himself or herself, maybe it's all worth it.

Last Saturday was one of those days. 135 people showed up at our little country church to show their unity and love in the body of Christ. They came to paint, scrub, weed, and repair the chruch building and grounds. For most of them, this wasn't their church, and yet they were smiling as they worked, filled with the Spirit's joy.

Then on Sunday, we had five new members join the church. Four older folks,... and Chris. Chris, who has been living with my family for the past four months, and who will be leaving us on Saturday. It was his last Sunday at church, and he walked forward to the front of the sanctuary during the closing him to become a member. I think it was his way of recognizing that the chruch had become his family as well.

If I were able to choose something else, I probably would. But when I see why God called me and what God is able to do through me, I know I can't.

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