“It must be nice to have a job that only makes you work one hour per week!”
If I had a dollar for every time someone said that to me, my wife and I would be enjoying a really nice vacation somewhere warm this winter.
I know that people say that to us ministers in jest, and that they know that pastors generally put in lots of hours and have very complex and challenging tasks. But I wonder if they know how interesting and fulfilling it is to be the pastor of a congregation?
In the years since I was ordained as a Minister in 1992, I’ve been able to get involved in all kinds of situations. I’ve met with lots of couples before their wedding days – and I’ve counselled couples heading for divorce court. I’ve often stood at the bedside of people about to leave this life – and I’ve held newborn babies just starting their journey. I’ve been at plenty of banquet halls – and quite a number of homeless shelters. Discovery and loss, hope and despair, joy and sorrow, peace and conflict: life and faith are about all of these things, in various measures and at different times.
Just about every minister I know could say the same thing. What this shows is that it’s true: faith really does matter. It matters when times are good, and it matters when times of trouble are upon us. It matters in times of prosperity and in times of need. It matters in times of peace as well as in times of conflict. It matters when laughter fills the air and when tears fill our eyes.
My impression, however, is that people tend to think more about faith and its place in their lives
in tough times than in easy times. Lots of prayers have gone up out of foxholes on battlefields, from patients about to get their diagnosis from doctors with grim expressions on their faces, from parents worrying about where their kids are. Not so many spiritual thoughts occupy our minds while strolling down the 15th fairway or while scanning the sale racks at the mall or while joking with friends at the skate park.
Our souls and our society would be healthier if we recognized that faith matters in all the dimensions and during all the times of our lives, in the highs and lows, the peaks and the valleys, and if we let the blessings of a vibrant connection with the Creator be our everyday experience. We’d be better prepared to face the challenges of adversity with godliness and grace, and more likely to celebrate the happy times with gratitude to God.
It’s true. Faith matters. Ask any of us pastors, we’ll tell you.