LOL Pastor

I have been an LOL person before it was cool, before LOL was conceived (almost) I was living it out. If you have ever been to one of my services, be warned, LOL will happen. In fact I am very likely to LOL at myself (and if you don’t know what LOL please google it immediately)Image

Now here is the interesting thing, my willingness to laugh has gotten me into a lot of trouble. (For why I laugh please read https://katyandtheword.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/pastor-with-a-sense-of-humor/)

a. People think I’m an airhead (I think this has to do with me being female). People assume because I laugh, I don’t care, when actually its the opposite. I laugh because I do care. I tend to take life very seriously. And when I say seriously, I don’t mean in a holier-than-thou or everything-is-sacred kind of way I mean the, life-is-God’s-gift, We-only-get-one-shot-at-it, so I pay attention way! I pay attention, so I don’t miss the happy moments. I pay attention because I have found that laughter is rare, and humor is a hard commodity to find. I pay attention because it is SO important to find Joy in life, and I don’t want any ounces of it that I can catch to slip through my fingers. Image

b. People think I devalue God, ministry, etc. by laughing. Last I check the Book of Order (the Presbyterian Constitution) says W-1.1000 i.e. the very, very, very first thing said about worship is “Christian   worship   joyfully   ascribes   all   praise   and   honor,   glory  and  power  to  the  triune God.” We are supposed to have fun, I don’t know why we forget that (p.s. when is having fun not holy?)

Plus-we are currently striving under Openness to be more open to joy (bet you didn’t even know that). In F-1.0404, our first Openness statement is “a  new  openness  to  the  sovereign  activity  of  God  in  the  Church  and  in  the  world,   to  a  more  radical  obedience  to  Christ,  and  to  a  more  joyous  celebration  in  worship  and  work;”

What does this mean? It means the more obedience we find, the closer we are to God, the more joyous our celebration has become. My most recent example of this is the Farmer’s Market, which most of us find “fun.” This doesn’t mean we aren’t working, to the contrary, it means we are doing the right kind of work.

Which brings me to the third problem I often encounter.

3. People think I don’t work hard enough. I seriously think because I enjoy my job, people think I’m not “working.” I have tried to give more voice to the work I am doing, but I have found it difficult to do this without gogguzomen (grumbling, muttering, complaining in Greek–I love that word, doesn’t it sound just like what it means?). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbhnRuJBHLs Anyway, so if I don’t complain like the rest of the world, I must not be doing my job properly, but in actuality I am obsessed with my job. I am, in truth a workaholic, and it takes a lot for me to put down the reins and take the days/hours/minutes off that I need. However, it is hard for people to see this, because I love my job. I truly love my job. I love that when I do well I can laugh, I love that when I make mistakes I can laugh at myself, and I love how God turns everything upsidedown on me, so what I thought I was doing completely changes (rather like a King in a manger, Salvation on the cross, Great Epistles written by a tax collector), when these surprises come I like to laugh. It doesn’t mean I am taking things lightly. It just means that I am game for God’s jokes. I am ready to be surprised, I am ready to be happy, and I’m ready to find happiness, even in what seems like mistakes at the time. It doesn’t mean that I don’t internalize those mistakes, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel guilty, or work on them. What it means is that I am able to find the humor in things. I am able to understand that I don’t understand. I see the mystery in God’s face, and I laugh.

So I admit it. In the face of a faltering denomination tearing apart on issues of acceptance no less (talk about the ultimate irony!!!), despite a disappointing GA where the Youth/Younger people were ignored (even as people wondered how to get young people into the church), in a place where Vice Moderators are threatened and feel the need to step down (http://www.pcusa.org/news/2012/7/4/mccabe-resigns-vice-moderator-220th-ga/). Times seem to be tough. However, I refuse to give in. It is easier to pick-a-little and talk-a-little than to find the good. It is easier to dwell on the bad, and it is human to try to rip things apart rather than to laugh and move on together. So in light of all this….I’m going to continue to be a LOL pastor.

Farmers, Markets and God

Well,

2 weeks in, and our Farmer’s Market is going fairly well. It is also very time intensive! Here we are in the middle of summer, and our stats stand as follows

 

Grand Opening over 200

Rainy, Rainy 2nd week 65

Overall, I think that we are doing pretty well–however as we begin this ministry of farming and marketing, I am trying to tease out the theology behind the market.
Why are we selling vegetables? What space does it provide the community? Should I be doing more “religious” looking stuff? Are we touching people–doe we get the word out? How is our advertising anyway? Do we have enough farmers (a lot of our vendors sell things other than vegetables)? What is growing out of this seed that is being planted (get it)?

You can tell there are a lot of questions….and yet, its exciting. It’s exciting to do something new, to see the church pull together, to actually have people want to come into our humble parking lot (which is apparently a lot less scary than the church building itself)…
So we’ll see what develops, in the meantime, I’m enjoying the adventure…..

The Feeding and Care of Pastors….

Pastors only work one day a week, and it’s a half day, Right????

I think my new thing is to ask for an budget for weekly exercise. I find it hard to find the time, energy and money to exercise. Yet if I sign up for a class I inevitably attend, enjoy it and ultimately get sick less, which is a win on all fronts…oh yeah, and to continue to ask for more staff–I always think we need more staff, because I am feeling overworked

In fact, I find in general that anytime I overwork, I get sick. It’s just the way my body works. Not eating or sleeping regularly? There’s no getting away with that….I just get sick, get an enforced day off, and am not happy while I’m at it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabbath

So that’s it, eat, sleep, and hopefully exercise. Contrary to popular belief pastors do not  work only half a day, its more of a on-call-and-thinking-about-your-job-24/7-type-of-career. When we say that we are called, we really mean it!

Maybe the confusion comes from the following facts

1) I love my job

2) I truly care about all those in my ministry

3)I have work-a-holic tendencies.

Add it all up and it means that when I’m working, I don’t always look to be hard at work. It is hard to separate my “work” self from my “home” self (maybe because they are almost the same thing), and I have trouble setting time aside for myself.

Take last week, Monday I worked all morning fielding phone calls for the Farmer’s Market Grand Opening, that afternoon and evening I prepped more stuff for the opening and wrote the bulletin. Tues Morning I ran our Mugs and Hugs Playgroup, immediately after lunch I came back to help to set up then I stayed until 6pm for the market. That night I worked on a bulletin for a funeral.

Wednesday I spent the morning home with the family (normally my open door office hrs), that afternoon I spent with a family for their visiting hrs at the funeral home. That night I finished the bulletin for the funeral.

Thursday I conducted a funeral and burial (at the graveyard), accompanied the family for lunch, that night I packed for a trip

Friday I travelled up to Silver Bay for a retreat of Presbytery (the governing board) and slept over. Sat I returned early due to babysitting difficulties (after the 2nd sitter called out with the stomach flu I gave up), Sat night I prepped for worship/Sunday School.

Sunday=Adult Sunday School and Agape Worship.

Image

Then there’s all the things I wanted to do: prepare more stuff for the farmer’s market, pick up signs from the shop, plot out my scripture passages for the next month, visit all the shut ins (this is esp. due because I’ve been sick), visit some of our community connections, foster relationships, pray more, oh and rest up since I’m on meds for laryngitis (remember how I said I get sick when I don’t take care of myself…well point made God), this doesn’t even include any of the personal stuff I wanted to do…

How do I resolve this? I think I need to set stronger boundaries, but I also need to train my congregation to take better care of me. I am the most likely to take care of myself if someone else reminds me to do so. My husband helps with this, but I still have a long ways to go to doing it “right”. Someday I’ll get the Jubilee right, in the meantime, I’ll strive to keep a better schedule…..Imagel

Someone should do this…..

What is both wonderful and frustrating about being a pastor is that a lot of what is done is unquantifiable. Most of the time I am well aware of the fact that I am a “pastor” not only in the church but also, and perhaps more importantly in the community. What this ultimately means is that as a pastor, you wear a lot of hats–some of them better than others.

Whenever people ask how it is to be a pastor I usually say something along the lines that I’m a Jack-of-All-Trades and as such, I get a lot of enjoyment out of doing many different kinds of things.

However, my job also is “thereotically” to put myself out of a job. In between visiting people I should be training my deacons and elders to visit people, in between preaching I should be teaching others how to testify to the word, in between leading and organizing events I should be training/empowering others to lead and organize events.

On the one hand I love the teaching, on the other hand, I find that no matter how things go it is ultimately the pastor who (right or wrong) gets the praise or the blame. This means that whenever there is a suggestion of “Someone should do xxx” whether xxx is fixing the exhaust fans in the bathroom, creating a Farmer’s Market, improving the worship experience, or advertising the church itself (my church’s current cross to bear), that I automatically feel like “I” am the one who is responsible for all of these things.

I need to do x, y and z to keep the church going, I am responsible, I am human–sometimes I need to step back and remind myself that God is really in charge of things. Sometimes I need to take a day to be not just, pastor, mother and wife and be just a Katy. A simple human who God is making into the best possible version of myself.

In the meantime Someone should work more theologically on developing a better understanding in the congregation and on the street in general of who the pastor is and how that works in relationship with the congregation and the world–who knows maybe that someone might even be me 😉

Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

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