Reflections on being a pastor

I was a senior pastor once. The church I pastored had an attendance around 500 plus or minus depending on the time of year. We had several staff members. A worship pastor. A children’s pastor. Bookkeeper. And a director of hospitality. Her name was Nicole. She started strong in her job. Following up with people. Planning events. Organizing ushers, greeters, and the like. Planning dinner for Wednesday nights. But over time the fire, the passion for the position began to slowly go out. We met. Established new goals. Discussed what was happening in her life and her family. The church even paid for her counseling.

But then the day came. I sat down with her and described how we were going to go a different direction with her job. We gave her what I thought was a generous severance package. I worked hard at extending grace to her. I thought I spoke hope and healing into her life. She left that day. I thought it went well under the circumstances. But then word began to filter back to me – that I fired Nicole. That I was harsh and fired her without cause. Six families left the church. Rumors abounded. I choose to say nothing. What could I say.

Months passed by. We began to recover. We hired another hospitality director. Then one day I got a phone call. The voice on the other end was sobbing, crying. I recognized the voice as Nicole. She explained that her mother had taken her life. Nicole had gone to check on her mom when she found her body with the pills spilled out on the floor. Her mother had been dead for several days. She explained that she called me because she couldn’t think of anyone else to call. I called Wanda and the two of us went down to the mother’s house to be with Nicole. We got there just before the coroner.

Wanda took Nicole and walked around the block. I helped the coroner with the body. She was in the van on the way to the morgue as Wanda and Nicole came around the corner. We spent the rest of the day with Nicole. We helped her pick up her kids from school. We helped her fix dinner. The next Sunday Nicole was with her family in church. She came back. The other six families never did but Nicole did. Go figure.

Ministry is an unusual vocation. It will stretch you. It will humble you. You will have times of great clarity into the human condition. You will experience times of great mystery about life and people and why they do what they do and why I do what I do. Ministry keeps me on my knees and in His Word seeking for what only he can give me.