Monday, December 28, 2009

O What a Decade it's been!

As 2009 comes to a close there are the obligatory end of year and sense we are closing out a decade the end of decade lists and summaries. These are cool because they allow us to look back and reminisce and they are also annoying and cliche because there is a list about everything. But I thought if everyone else can do it why not I, especially since I am laid up with a bum leg. So without any further ado here are a few events in my life over the last decade.

I would be in a lot of trouble if I did not begin with getting married. But in truth I cannot think of any other even that has changed my life as drastically and happily. There is that corny line from Jerry Maguire "You complete me." Well not to get too mushy or corny myself, my wife makes me whole. She offers support, she challenges me in many ways, and she loves me unconditionally which believe me is not easy. I am not an easy person to live with, ask any of my former roommates. The great thing about our marriage is that we work together as a team. This is not to say we don't have our problems but we work through them. Communication is the key.

Another event that has forever altered who I am is serving as a pastor. I am still serving my in first appointment and I am entering in my 5th year at Liberty/Rehoboth UMC. I have learned so much about people, about myself, and about God at these churches. I think I have learned more from my parishioners than I have taught them. I also have met some great colleagues who offer support and friendship.

My time at Vanderbilt Divinity School also changed my life this decade. Before beginning my studies at VDS my idea of theological discourse was Rick Warren and the folks on TBN (don't laugh). The faculty and my fellow students taught me to see the world as a follower of Christ and all the complexities and difficulties that accompany that. I also learned a lot about my Methodist heritage and the more I learn the more I realized that I am an unabashed Methodist.

I made some great friends many of whom I met this decade. These are people who I can depend on and trust. Most importantly they accept me for who I am without pretension.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Psychic Pastors

One of the biggest frustrations I have found in ministry so far is staying in the loop when it comes to parishioners going to the hospital or being sick in general. I usually find out a few days later (usually on Sunday morning). I want to be there for my people when they need me, but I do not read minds. Another problem is with visitations. I always ask before I come over and I usually get some kind of excuse "I'm really busy this week" or "I'm not feeling well today" which tell me that they really don't want me to come. But then I hear complaints that I do not visit as much as I should. I am somewhat introverted and so I ere on the side of respecting personal space and privacy. I really wish that people could just be open and honest. "Hey I would love to have you over for coffee." or "Would you like to join us for lunch after church?" That hasn't happened yet, in four years.

Is this something I should encourage from the pulpit? Should I just tell them to be more open and blunt about wanting a visit? I really think that some people feel that the pastor should just know when to call or when to come and when they don't the parishioner gets mad. To all the church folks out there remember this, pastors have many gifts from God but one we do not have is psychic abilities, we can not read mind. I know that I would like a more open relationship with my parishioners where they feel comfortable asking for pastoral care instead of me having to guess and make assumptions.