Sunday, October 27, 2013

Confessions Of A Preacher's Wife's Kid

From today's Times and News-Star

October is Pastor Appreciation Month or Clergy Appreciation Month, a warm bit of recognition that’s often overshadowed by Halloween, college football, Columbus Day, the changing leaves, and sin.

(Sin gets around. October’s not big enough to hold it. It’s sort of similar to a good running back: you can’t stop it; you can only hope to contain it. That’s why we don’t have a Sin Appreciation Month!)

If we can take time out from eating candy and checking the injury report of our favorite team, it might be nice to high-five the pastor, send him a card, make him a casserole or even buy his dinner. Pastors, you know, are people too. Like game officials and tightrope walkers, we expect them to start perfect – and get better.

True, you don’t want to be TOO nice to them or they’ll start taking Sundays off, too. (It’s fun to joke around with the preacher. Sunday is not the only day they work. Some have to work Wednesday evenings, too.)

We see the preacher on Sundays but we don’t see him visiting the sick and the shut-in, or helping pull a drunk out of a ditch on Friday night, or preparing for a funeral on what was going to be his day off, or sitting for an hour listening to somebody pour out their heart, somebody who’d asked the preacher earlier in the week, “Hey, mind if I stop by for five minutes?” Five minutes often turn into 10, and then into an hour, and then the preacher heads home to another cold supper.

Which brings this to mind, something from a sort-of-devotion I wrote back at the first of this month:

Having seen the everyday life of a preacher from the inside out – as a preacher’s son – I vote for “pastor” as one of the hardest jobs in the world.

I have not witnessed fishing the Alaskan shoreline in November or taming a lion or working in the ticket office of the Jacksonville Jaguars, so maybe those are harder. “Pastoring” has got to be in the Top 10, though. Got to be. And not just because you work weekends.

Yet it’s a funny thing: a pastor who is married doesn’t even have the hardest job in his own home. That honor goes to Pastor’s Wife, who for my money (less 10 percent for tithe) has The Hardest Job in the World.

Just my opinion.

Who do you think listens to the pastor after the pastor has listened to everyone else all day? Who is the pastor’s counselor and friend, come hell or more hell? Who is keeping the home fires burning while the pastor is either putting fires out or trying to get good fires going?

Who is judged, be it right or wrong, by what her kids and husband do or don’t do? Who gets sideswiped by gossip that has nothing to do with her and everything to do with how somebody thinks her husband should be handling church business? Who inherits, at the end of the day, a tired, often confused, often perplexed pastor?

Who was chosen, in a godly marriage, to help shepherd the shepherd? Whose hand rocks the cradle, and the pulpit?

Thank you to the preacher’s wife, yours and mine, who gets little of the glory when things go right and more than her share of the blame when something is “wrong” in the church. Bless them for how they encourage and nurture and inspire and even correct. Without them, we would be much less than we are. So would our pastors.