Friday, August 22, 2008

What it Means to be a Pastor

Over the last few weeks, I have been learning a great deal more about what it means to be a Pastor. In Seminary, while they try to prepare you for the realities of this call, you still tend to leave with this glossed over view of what real ministry is. It is in the excitement of FINALLY getting out into the "real world" to do "real ministry" that you can miss what exactly it really entails.

I am learning, albeit probably more quickly than I would like, that ministry has its ups/downs, joys/sorrows, peaceful moments/not-so-peaceful moments. I've discovered that learning about being a Pastor is not so much done through classes and reading, but must be done experientially. I've also learned that the greatest resource aside from prayer and the Gospel really is found in your colleagues.

One of the goals I have had throughout seminary and continue to carry with me into my first call is to continue the process of forming my pastoral identity. While I was able to get to the place where I actually wanted to be a pastor before graduation, I am continually molding and shaping what that means. Through the experiences I have had in the last three months, and through the experiences I will continue to have, my pastoral identity will grow and change.

Being a pastor is not a frilly, happy-go-lucky kind of job. It can be raw and difficult at one moment, then the next will be filled with complete joy. In both cases, I am finding as a pastor you can experience contentment, knowing you are serving in the places God has called you to serve. That contentment, however, does not always come easily or immediately.

While seminary attempts to prepare us for the realities of ministry, I really do not think that full preparation is possible. The tools they offered have certainly come into play and I am so thankful to have them. The reality of walking into any new career, however, can only be experienced through actually doing the work.

It can be fun, it can be difficult, it has challenged me in ways I never expected.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Much Needed Vacation

I am back to work and while part of me is thrilled to get back to "normal" life, i'm already counting down the days till my next vacation! Which, by the way, is in about 165 days. Woo hoo for Disney World!
Heather and I had such a wonderful time during her visit. We spent much of the time talking and catching up. It was the first time her and I have spent time just the two of us since college (around 2003). The last few times we have been together were during Jacob's funeral, more time with Asher in the hospital, then right after he came home. While those were important and much needed visits, it was nice to just have some time relaxing!
We went to Gettysburg so Heather could see my old home town. We toured the battlefield, visited the wax museum, then had dinner with Audrey, our college professor. I really do miss Gettysburg so much! It was strange visiting the seminary knowing I am an alumni now. Part of me wishes I was still a student (never thought I would say that).
The next day we went to Washington DC which was Heather's first time. We spent much of the day at the Holocaust museum which was very important for Heather. It was my fifth time visiting and I am always amazed that there is more to see. I am still overwhelmed with emotion when I visit the museum.
We then headed out to see the main monuments. It was beautiful weather throughout the beginning, but then of course a thunderstorm hit when we were at Lincoln. The storm lasted quite a while so we decided to brave the weather. You can see above the evidence of that endeavor!
What I thought was very cool was once the storm past, a rainbow appeared perfectly at the Washington Monument. It was one of the most beautiful things i've seen. To me, it was the perfect way to end our visit to the capital.
The next day we laid around in our pajamas watching movies. This is a very important tradition Heather and I insist on keeping. We used to do this all the time at my father's house during college. I miss doing this so much. There aren't many people who can truly be as lazy as I am! :)
After Heather left, I spent some time processing the events of this summer and taking time to rest and recoup. While it was good to forget about my troubles while Heather was here, it was also good for me to take time to work through things. I've had a major headache the last week or so, but it is finally lifting. I'm taking that as a sign that I really am healing.
So as you can see, things really are getting back to normal. It feels so good to write that! Work is in full swing, and I am even catching up on Asher and Jacob's Friends. I have missed my old self so much and am not use to feeling so broken. I cannot thank God enough for this week of healing.

Monday, August 04, 2008