December 08, 2007

I Wish...

In the movie The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, Christmas is particularly stressful. Mrs. Claus is about to give birth, toy production is behind schedule, the in-laws are coming for a visit, and Jack Frost is threatening to take over Christmas. One thing after another leads Santa (aka Scott Calvin) to declare, "I wish I'd never been Santa at all."

It was a comment spoken out of the frustration of the moment. Santa immediately regrets saying it, for the words do not convey his true feelings. What's worse is that Jack Frost has tricked Santa into saying those words at such a time that they become true: as soon as he speaks them, he is no longer Santa. He must then attempt to set things right, and become Santa again.

Nearly every pastor I know can relate. There are times when we've said, "I wish I'd never become a pastor at all." Some of my friends have seen their wish come true, as they are no longer in the ministry.

When I heard the call to ministry, I remember all my family and friends being happy for me. These days, I sometimes wonder if some of them were secretly thinking, "better you than me." As I prepare to move my family despite the fact that I have no job waiting for me, taking my kids to a new community and new school, faced with the possibility of not having enough money to pay the bills (not to mention health insurance), and with little support from the congregation I am leaving, I'm increasingly finding myself wishing that I'd never entered the ministry.

My sister-in-law is trying to get me to go into teaching. She's a teacher, and says that if I were a middle school or high school math teacher, I could easily get a job almost anywhere, earning much more than I am now. The idea is tempting.

But would I regret it? Ministry is, in many ways, rewarding. It is what I feel I am called to do. If I were to speak the wish out loud and it magically became true, would I fight to undo it? Would I fight to become a pastor again? Or would I happily turn my back on the vocation to which I feel called? Would the better income, and the relative security that lets me sleep at night, be worth it? Would being able to maintain health insurance for my family (including my diabetic son) be worth it?

Too bad the screenwriters are on strike. Maybe they could script it out for me.

1 comment:

Dennis Sanders said...


I can relate to the feelings. I have said at times that I wish I had never been a pastor, but so far, I've remained. I can't tell you what to do, but I would still try to find a way to live out your call. I would say this: taking a job in teaching would not necessarily be leaving your call. There are many pastors that are involved in bivocational ministry where they work in a job outside the church. There might be churches that would be open to different way to do ministry.

Stay strong, Danny.