my happy career

clergy have the happiest job, and i have to agree.

as a member of the clergy, i have to admit that i am loving much of what i do, even if there are days when i don’t want to write profound sermons. i will be honest that there are days when i want to be antisocial, but for the most part i love my job. there are days when the joy i feel with my job does not mean that i am necessarily happy (not always gushing rainbows) but i am content even while stressed.

i love the people i work with, both the people sitting in the pews on sundays mornings or showing up at other church events and those who are leading congregations in other towns.

i love knowing that what i do matters, especially at the high and low points of life. this includes having a presence during hospital visits and funerals. celebrating baptisms and confirmations and marriages. social visits and random conversations in grocery stores.

i was fortunate early this week to take time to be with friends and family once again. not that i don’t love the people i live near, but it was good to see people who knew me before i was “magically” transformed into a pastor…people who knew me when i was training and studying and thinking about where God was going to send me before i showed up as a full-fledged pastor with all the bells and whistles.

i went to the celebration of biblical preaching at luther (well, part of it). it was great to hear reflections about preaching, good to worship (without leading), amazing to see old friends and meet new people. i stayed with jess (and emily and hanna) off-campus, which was a perfect location to be. not that i don’t love luther, but it’s nice to be in the area without being too close to the place i just left a few months ago.

the best part was to run into old friends and professors, who would ask me where i was now and how i was doing. several times people commented how happy i looked. and i have to admit that i was and am happy. i may be stressed out at times, but overall i’m overjoyed with what i do. i loved catching up and seeing familiar faces who bring great joy because of the good memories i’ve had with them in my life. i’m sad that they are now 6 hrs away from me, but i’m compelled to go back soonish and keep the relationships going.

one friend in particular pointed out that i have not been blogging very much (thanks for noticing, harvey!). i knew this but never realized just what i’ve been missing out on over the past few months. for the last two years, blogging has been a way for me to process what goes on in life, and i haven’t been doing that much, except sporadically in my head or in conversations with others. so i will be more intentional about sharing my thoughts and experiences with you readers out there in the rest of the world.

i’ve been a bit stressed since i have a lot on my plate (weekly sermons, weekly bible studies, constant visits and pressure to visit, continuous parades of new faces and names to learn, desire to rebuild youth involvement, numerous meetings each month, and of course confirmation). i enjoy what i do, but for a while i think i was pushing myself in too many directions. a couple weeks ago i basically hit a wall where i had overextended myself. and i know that if i had been blogging or being more intentional about talking with people, i would have paid more attention to the fact that i was stressed and why.

ironically, my main source of stress is frustration: frustration that i don’t know all 500 people who are part of my churches (only about 150-200 names come easily to me), frustration that i haven’t been better as visiting people (and feel guilty that the shut-ins and nursing home residents have generally only seen me three times max in the 3.5 months i’ve been here), frustration that my sermons aren’t very good (i have high expectations), etc.

my main challenge is myself and my desire to be a perfect pastor, even though i have much to learn. fortunately, the people in my parish are gracious and understand that i need time to learn and grow into this particular calling, even when i forget that i need time and grace.

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