Sometimes the Long Days Are Really Good

A lot of people want to know what a pastor does with her or his time throughout the day. I have one person who mentioned that they figured I had a lot of free time, because “pastor’s don’t do much more than prepare sermons right?” Right? Well not exactly. That would be to say that the most important thing that the people of God do is listen to a sermon, and I would certainly hope we have a better understanding of what it means to be the church than that?

In fact, I’m finding less and less time to actually work on sermons. In a way this is a good sign. When I first started my work at Camas Friends church, last May, I spent a ton of time every week planning, studying, outlining, writing, and re-writing. All focused on what I would talk about on Sunday. This past Sunday by contrast, I spent a good day working on what I would talk about, while spending the rest of the week praying and listening through the text, about the text, and about what all of this has to do with the people in our church.  Then on Sunday, I pretty much canned most of what I was going to say and followed more of the heart of what I had prepared. I am getting more comfortable being upfront, teaching the Bible and Quaker faith, and sharing stories. I don’t always connect these things well, I still mumble and keep my head down more than I would like, and I’m not as funny as I’d like to be, but I’m learning. And I want to continue to grow in this direction, that is in the direction of less planning and more hearing/listening. Now don’t get me wrong, I always intend to thoroughly study and write out what I plan to talk about before I preach when possible (I love theology way too much to not take my chances every week to spend time reading it), but I am working at listening better, and trying to grow in the ability to follow God’s guidance in the moment as much as throughout the week. This was a big lesson I took away from our recent workshop experience in Philadelphia. Combining these two things (planning and listening) is an attempt to combine the Quaker and Preacher aspects of my call.

And while I LOVE to read, study and write, what I really love to is be with people. Today was a really long day and a lot of unexpected things popped up along the way, but I loved today because I got to spend it with people. I visited a local resource center for families and got to meet some of the people who run it as well as some of the families who are aided by their work. I had lunch with a member I’ve been meaning to make a connection with since she first started coming. I spent time picking up friends from the airport, and visiting the Camas Farmer’s Market and seeing people I’ve been building friendships there. Then this evening I went with a friend and visited another member who is dealing with a lot of issues right now. Each of these events today were divine appointments, working to listen to each individual, to truly hear his or her story, to try and help them find their place in the life of our community, to try and find ways to help shepherd them along were truly life giving. So even though I clocked in a good 11 hours, and worked on my sermon for a total of about 20 mins of that time, I feel like today was a really good day to be a pastor of a Friends meeting.

But of course now, I have to get back to working on my sermon for Sunday!

Published by

Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

One thought on “Sometimes the Long Days Are Really Good”

  1. Ah. I loved this post for many reasons. I feel like you really did a good job outlining what the work of the ministry really is and how it far exceeds a pulpit (do you use one of those?) on sunday mornings. I also loved what you had to say about clocking 11 hour days but how these were divine appointments and things that were important.

    Good insight…thanks Wess.

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