October 22, 2009

pastoral discoveries

So - my last post kind of cryptically talked about growing and stretching and being challenged and stressed. As I'm wading around in all of that still, I thought it would be good to talk about some of the things that Im learning about what it means to be a pastor in the midst of it.

1) It's okay to not answer your phone. At our Healthy Ministerial Relations workshop we talked about boundaries and many people shared that they turn their phone off on their sabbath days. I wouldn't do that simply because my cell phone is also my personal phone - but I did remember that advice when I recieved five phone calls from church folk on Sunday afternoon. I didn't have my pastor hat on then - I was being a sister and was helping paint my brother-in-laws new house. So I let the calls go to voice mail. And then I listened to see if they were important. And then I let it wait. When I started my day on Monday - I called each one of them back. And while initially I felt kind of guilty about doing so, it was a reminder that I don't have to be "on" 24-7.

2) Why do pledge drives/stewardship campaigns have to be in November? With how busy our lives are right now it just seems like one more thing on top of every other thing. I think for the most part we like the connection of offering and thanksgiving and consecration all going together, but there is no time left. We are now talking about pushing all of that back to January. We don't use our pledges to make our budget anyways because we don't have enough history with them. What difference would it make if as a congregation we commit to support the church at the end of January instead of the end of November? Plus - it gives us the opportunity to really push our small group study and having a "new year, new finances" kind of focus might work out really well!

3) Rookie mistake - don't talk to reporters. And especially don't talk to people when you really don't have time. As I was finishing up the funeral orders - about 15 minutes before the family was scheduled to arrive - I got a phone call that I really didn't have time to answer. I told him I didn't have time to talk, and was trying to show that I had no information that could help him, but in my rush to get on with my business, and because I had no idea what he was talking about I said something that was taken out of context in the article. Note to everyone else: just say no comment. (see also #1 - it's okay not to answer the phone and screen the calls through voicemail)

4) Your support network keeps you sane... or at least helps you let off steam. Without my best friends and facebook, without my brothers/sisters (in-laws too), and without being honest and vulnerable with my congregation, some of this week might have been unbearable. But because we talked (and typed) and prayed and hugged and watched football, we got through it.

5) You have to keep the joys and thanksgivings at the front. I carried around the pictures of my new nephew and showed him to lots of people this week - it gave me a chance to celebrate in the midst of the stress.

6) Sometimes you can get away with swearing during a sermon. At the funeral this week, the family didn't want to get up and speak, but had some things that they wanted me to include. And so I said them - and it cut to the heart of who this guy was and everyone understood and I didn't get any snide looks from anyone who thought it was inappropriate.

7) Once you use powerpoint in a sermon, you may never go back.  I preached on the three major atonement theories in worship on Sunday and used visuals/bullet points.  I had so many positive comments that now I'm wondering how we can adapt the technology in our worship space to make it easier to continue doing so.

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