Last week an honest if cranky article by the Rev. Gary Brinn went viral and generated a lot of conversation - and controversy. More than anything else, the article made me think about why I have nothing but love for my calling as a congregational pastor.
1. I set my own hours, and have a lovely private study.
2. I get to write (a lot) and read (a lot). And I don't just read biblical commentaries and leadership theory. I read poetry and the newspaper and novels and blogs, and it's all relevant.
3. Not everyone is so lucky, but I have remarkably wonderful colleagues, including my senior pastor.
4. Leading worship - especially preaching and celebrating the sacraments - gives me such joy. I also love the rhythm of life lived around Sundays.
5. While leading worship is often the most public thing I do, it is but the tip of the iceberg. Just this week, I have or will teach Bible study, work with the mission group to review grant applications, convene a first meeting of a church-based gun control advocacy network, teach a writing workshop, lead a program for the junior high youth group, and start a new small group study about holistic wellness for the moms group. This job is endlessly interesting.
6. And yeah, it's busy. I'm tired. But when my husband had an emergency appendectomy on Christmas Eve and needed a couple weeks to recovery? I was off, no questions asked. I didn't even go to one of the Christmas Eve services I was supposed to help lead. It all balances out in the end.
7. I get to be with people in some of the biggest moments of their lives. Life and death and everything in between. I get to hold new babies, and hold hands with people who will soon depart from this life. I am entrusted with so many sacred stories.
8. I am surrounded by beauty: the liturgy, the stoles, the architecture, the laughter of the children playing in our preschool.
9. Speaking of children: this job is totally a family affair, and as far as I'm concerned that is a great thing. My husband teaches Sunday School and serves on the spirituality committee. Between Sunday School and preschool and the nursery, our daughters are here so much it's like their second home. A couple weeks ago when the chancel was particularly full of kids for the Children's Sermon, my daughter scrambled up to where the pastors sit and listened in from the comfort of her mother's lap.
10. This is what I'm called to do, by a loving God who has extended so much grace to me through this vocation. I felt very unworthy of this calling throughout seminary and my first years in ministry, but I echo the sentiments of Martin Copenhaver, who writes in This Odd and Wondrous Calling, "I do believe that, by donning such a role and by doing those things that are associated with such a role, being a pastor has made me better than I am." It is such an honor to serve Christ by serving in the local church, and I wouldn't want it any other way.
If you're a pastor, what do you love about your vocation? Heck, if you aren't a pastor, what do you love about what you do?