A friend of mine told me a story about his father who was an Army Chaplain during World War II. The chaplain said that he was teased with the standard tease of clergy that he sure had an easy job because he only worked one day a week. But the chaplain had a standard answer that kept humor in the conversation and deflected the barb. He’d say, “Well, I put in for pay clerk, but that job was already taken,” referencing that pay checks came out only one day a month, so the pay clerk must have an even better job.
That tease has been repeated thousands of times, and I myself have, and every pastor anywhere and in any time has heard it. I would just hope and pray that it would always be handled with as much class and humor as the old chaplain handled it.
But it does bring up a good question: What does a pastor do all week? What does a pastor do all year?
I was asked recently to reflect on these questions and give a response that would be helpful to anyone who just might not know about the life and work of being a pastor. I humbly propose that I might be considered a bit of an “expert on the subject” because I was a P.K. (Pastor’s Kid) growing up, my father-in-law was a pastor, I’ve been a pastor now for 34 years, and I’ve known and shared life with hundreds of clergy-type people over the years.
I do not share the scope and complexity of a pastor’s life with any intention of bragging or drawing unwanted admiration for pastors. A pastor’s job is always to point to God, not to self. But I believe I’m just answering the question: What does a pastor do all week and all year?
I want you here to bring into your mind your own pastor. I’m bold enough to say that he or she could make this his or her own “report” for the previous year and all previous years. What did your pastor do last year, most every week, most every day? Let me tell you.
Your pastor preached The Word of God upon every opportunity, Sunday after Sunday, and in every special service. This includes extensive Bible study, planning, reading and research, private meditation and prayer, encountering the world and its reality, and developing varieties in approach and delivery.
Your pastor conducted your worship services, again upon every opportunity, Sunday after Sunday, and for every special service.
Your pastor administered The Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion in accordance with opportunity and your congregation’s schedule, including both special “private Baptisms,” and “private Communions” to your shut-ins, etc.
Your pastor provided pastoral care to the sick, dying, grieving, depressed, people in crisis, families in turmoil, and everyone your pastor could help in any way.
Your pastor taught The Word of God in Bible Study classes, confirmation classes, special sessions, to children, youth, and adults.
Your pastor prayed for and with everyone your pastor possibly could, especially those on your “Care & Prayer” list and for anyone who revealed to your pastor a need for any kind of prayer.
Your pastor counseled and married those brides and grooms who sought God’s blessings for their weddings and married lives.
Your pastor gave Christian burial to those who left us to be among “The Saints in Heaven,” under all kinds of situations with varying degrees of tragedy and grief.
Your pastor used music to teach God’s will and ways, including in VBS with the children, leading and ultimately coordinating the music components for both your traditional and contemporary services.
Your pastor gave supervision and leadership to all your teaching ministries, including Sunday school, VBS, confirmation classes, adult classes, youth classes.
Your pastor gave supervision and leadership to your council and all your committees of ministry.
Your pastor worked to bring Christ to people and families, and then to bring those people and families into your congregation of faith.
Your pastor gave vision and meaning to your purpose as a congregation.
Your pastor lived to be an example of a Christ-like life and ministry that includes giving one’s whole self and soul to God, followed by joyfully giving one’s time, talents, and treasures to God at your church according to Biblical proportions.
You know that the old chaplain was only kidding. He would never have put in for pay clerk, and the chaplain wouldn’t have traded his work and his life for any other. Christian ministry is a full, rich, rewarding, challenging, blessed, privileged, and glorious life! I know I wouldn’t trade it for any other. I love The Lord and I love the people of my church and this community! And again I will be so bold as to say that the same is true about your pastor as well.
Kollmeyer is Pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. For more information log on at www.princeofpeacefayette.com or call 770-461-3403.