“Jenny, remember this: we work six days and twenty-three hours to have the privilege of standing in front of a congregation for twenty minutes on Sunday morning to tell them what to believe about the bible and how to live out their faith. Learn everything you can about the people God gives you. It is a privilege to lead them.” Dr. Don Forsman, Tulsa, OK, 1994
Early in my career, people made jokes about pastors working for an hour on Sunday. I’ve been asked what I did all day by my own father. Most people have no idea what a pastor does until they really need one. When that moment comes, I believe we have to be ready.
Since August 1:
I officiated for three funeral services. One funeral family was from within Wheatland.
I officiated a wedding.
I helped a homeless lady.
I travelled to Nashville twice to fulfill denominational duties for the global UMC.
I attended the Global Leadership Summit.
I hosted the Tanzania Mission team at my home for dinner.
I hosted a vision cast dinner for a potential 2018-2020 project in my home.
I helped a couple plan a 50th wedding anniversary vow renewal ceremony.
I counseled several couples who are having trouble in their marriage.
I listened to men tell me their wives left them.
I heard an abused woman tell me she still loved her husband.
I helped an elderly couple make a major decision that brought them peace.
I cried with a mom who’s child is making choices that are contrary to their family belief.
These are some of the major events on my calendar. There are also daily church and weekly staff meetings. I practice the very early morning discipline of bible reading and prayer because I wouldn’t be able to sustain what I do without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. As Dr. Forsman proscribed, I hold the privilege of standing in front of this wonderful blessed congregation on Sunday at Oswego or Naperville in the highest regard. God has blessed me to be able to work alongside some of the most talented and gifted staff people I have ever known. I look forward to our shared future.
I was writing a funeral sermon today when God gave me an insight. Faith accompanies us along the line. The line eventually represents the life we lived between our birth and our death. Pastors come alongside people during some of the most defining moments on that line. Faith is what gets us to the altar or to the side of a casket. Faith sustains us in the dark times and in times of joy. Faith challenges us to travel beyond comfort zones and to become vulnerable with trusted friends. Faith helps us persevere when it would be so much easier to give in. Faith is meant to mature and grow. It is something we share.
Why am I telling you all this? I wanted you to know what this pastor does. It’s all preparation. I pray I am ready to come alongside you during your defining moment. Each defining moment of faith prepares us for the next. Maybe I will be the pastor you need next week. Or maybe you will be the pastor I need.