Monday, January 7, 2019

January Newsletter--A brief reflection on 10 years of ordination and call

Grace and Peace to You from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

On January 3, 2009—surrounded by family, friends, colleagues, role models, and a bunch of people whom I scarcely knew and who called themselves members of Our Saviour Lutheran Church---I was on my knees and ordained as a minister of the church of Jesus Christ. Moments later I was installed as pastor of Our Saviour Lutheran Church. Yes, it has been a full decade. Except for marriage and fatherhood, I think it is longest single experience of my adult life.

It’s strange. I know of only one other in my graduating class who is at her original call. Many are their second or third calls. Some have left ministry altogether. Some have moved away from parish ministry and serve the church in other ways. Some have the left the ELCA and serve in other church bodies. And I have been here all the while. It is such a blessing because I feel like I am serving Christ in a way that not many pastors get to serve. Serving in one congregation for a decade makes me I feel like I am gaining a wisdom that many pastors do not get to achieve. I am not sure I can explain it and people seldom ask me for it, but I feel that way.

One of the secrets to serving a long term is for the pastor to actually like the people. I don’t recall the movie, but I recall a scene where a young man tells Jimmy Stewart (I think it was) he wants to marry a young woman. Stewart asks, “well, do you like her?” The young man enthusiastically responds, “Oh, yes, I love her”. Stewart rubs his chin and says, “I didn’t ask if you love her. I asked if you like her.” I can’t tell you the number of pastors I’ve met who behind closed doors really don’t seem to like their people. I am sure they would say that love them in some abstract sort of way. But it sees apparent to me that they don't have any real affection for them. A pastor has to appreciate quirks, moods, and differences. And when you do, it makes being a pastor a joy.

I don’t want to use this article to talk about how unique pastoral ministry is. Jesse Corbett used to say that he’d rather be a roofer than be a pastor. Me? I’ll stick to pastoring. I’ve had a lot of different work experiences, and I know every vocation has its ups and downs. I also know that having to sit down and think about a sermon when you are not in the mood feels an awful lot like the salesman having to make cold calls when he’s not in the mood for it. I just think being a pastor has a fascinating combination of joys, challenges and frustrations.

Thank you for letting me serve and thank you for helping me as we serve the Lord together. Peace in Christ, Pastor Lance+

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