The other day I was speaking to a friend who asked me how I was enjoying my retirement from the Navy. I told him I was loving it, especially since I don’t have to make flight arrangements anymore, or spend countless hours in airports and planes. Don’t get me wrong! While traveling I always have some work to do, or a book I’m trying to finish. And, of course, naps are always in order. It’s never wasted time. Gratefully it’s behind me now.
So my friend asked me what I was doing with myself. I reminded him that I am still the pastor of the Ripon Free Methodist Church. “It’s my job,” I said. “Actually, it’s more of a joy than it is a job.” I’d never expressed my pastoral ministry in those terms before. When I said it, something clicked. It was like the cartoon character that has the brilliant idea where the speech balloon pops up over his head with a lighted bulb indicating he’s just made a sparkling and insightful discovery.
This got me to thinking about my job as a pastor. It really is a joy! I remember my step father telling me to find something I like to do and then figure a way to get paid for it. I can’t say that I followed his advice because I was the furthest thing from a minister, a “man of God,” in those days. After surrendering my life to Jesus in 1972, I began to see the direction the Lord was leading me in. I became increasingly more aware of the way in which he wanted to use me.
I could go on for some time about the joys of pastoral ministry, but here are a few examples. Preaching each Sunday morning in two services is a lot of fun. You develop a relationship with the congregation so that there’s a lot of good-natured give and take between me and the folks in the pews. I remember preaching about communicating with God. At a certain point I looked up toward the ceiling as though speaking to God. The moment was broken by the ringing of a cell phone. I stopped my sermon, and just looked at the lady, smiling. She’s a real character, so you never know what to expect. With everyone looking at her to see what she will do, she ducks behind the pew, out of sight, only moments later to pop right back up with the phone to her ear and say, “God? Is that you?” The congregation dissolved into laughter, including me. It was priceless! I managed to finish the sermon but no one was listening. I’m quite certain the Lord and all the angels of heaven were still laughing too!
There was another time when I was doing my Sunday morning children’s sermon. I had about a dozen or so of our kids up front where I was really into the message. I told them how when you know Jesus as your Savior, he has promised that we will be joining him some day in heaven. But that’s not all! I told them how we’ll all sit down to enjoy a feast which the Bible calls the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The boy standing on my left was from a very poor family. He tugged on my sleeve to ask a question. I looked down at him and said, “What’s your question, son?” He said, “Pastor, will there be an all-you-can-eat-buffet in heaven?” I said, “Man, you know it! There’ll be so much food you won’t know what to do with yourself.”
Each week I have the pleasure of studying the Bible; teaching an adult Sunday school class; talking to folks about their relationship with Christ; praying for people; leading a men’s Bible study; discipling those who are new Christians; helping counsel folks, especially restoring marriages, and so on.
You see, I believe that God created us to enjoy life. This means we are to enjoy all aspects of life, which obviously would include our vocation. If you’re not enjoying your job, then be honest with yourself and ask the question: What’s my problem? Lack of education? Paid too well (including benefits) at your current job to leave? Afraid to venture out into another field? Family to provide for? Your boss is driving you nuts?
Yes, I’m recently retired from the Navy Chaplain Corps, but I’m hardly sitting around! The church is alive and well, and I’m enjoying myself thoroughly.
Do you enjoy what you’re doing?