I have been a part of the United Methodist Church well before I was born. As I grew up with my church, I have had the pleasure of meeting many pastors as they rotated through every 4 years, or so. As a lay person, I have known for a long time that pastors did not have typical jobs or hold regular schedules. In the last few months, I have realized and appreciated this even more.
Previously, my assumptions of what pastors do included the following: attend church meetings, prepare sermons, lead worship at least once a week, lead study groups, lead camps, contribute to missions and social justice, officiate weddings and funerals, provide encouragement and act as a counselor and comforter to those in need. What I have learned is that these are the “basics” of the job. That’s right… if that wasn’t enough, there’s a whole lot more!
Since the beginning of the year, I have had the opportunity to meet, interact and befriend several clergy who were not my local pastor. I was propelled into developing new connections after being called to “do something more” than just within the walls of my local church but I was struggling to discern that calling. I spent countless hours talking with my senior pastor and several other clergy within our conference. While there were numerous attempts to find the right person for me to talk to, that appeared to be a challenge. What took me months to realize is that every pastor within our conference has unique gifts and specific roles within the connection. In other words, pastors are just one piece of a giant puzzle; albeit very important pieces. Most of the time, especially as laity, we look at the individual puzzle pieces and cannot see the entire complicated puzzle. Kinda like not being able to see the forest through the trees.
After being elected as a lay delegate to Jurisdictional Conference, I have witnessed first hand another side of a pastor’s job that I had never considered before. Beyond caring for their local church, they are involved with conference, jurisdictional or denominational committees, teams and other working groups. This means they spend hours on video conference calls with other leaders several miles or states away. They travel to have face-to-face discussions, attend leadership conferences, and share their perspectives while learning about others’. Their lives are filled with overflowing inboxes, frequent texts, endless phone calls and ceaseless alerts from other forms of communication. And all of this is on top of their personal lives!
With this new perspective, I can honestly say that our pastors deserve lots of appreciation and TLC from their congregations! Most people don’t like to toot their own horn and say “look what I do!”. So let’s take the initiative to shower them with an abundance of congregational grace, love and support. Instead of letting our gratitude rest in our hearts, let’s take action to care for our pastors. Let’s take care of them so they can in turn take care of others and do the work they are called to do.