Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Secret Life of Bees, if we were bees.

It's Sunday night, about 9pm here. Jason and I are engaged in our Sunday night ritual. We are sprawled in the living room, watching Australian Idol. It's down to the final two, and you can bet we'll be voting this week! Go, Stan!

We are not good for very much on Sunday nights. Our church service is Sunday evening, and after spending most of the weekend preparing, thinking about it, and then doing it--we are toast by Sunday night. But in a good way. So on Sunday nights, we get KFC and let the kids eat in front of the TV, put 'em to bed, Jason has a glass of wine, I eat chocolate, and we totally veg out.

I was thinking tonight as we were settling in that there are a few random things about the life of a pastor that some people might not know. I certainly didn't until we took this job about 4 years ago!

  • For one thing, in a church our size, the pastor of the church is also usually the janitor of the church! We have a stellar team of volunteers, but tonight like most nights, Jason stayed behind to help them take out the trash, clean up, and make sure everything was locked up. One of Jason's first jobs after we got married was cleaning our church in Dallas. Our pastor at the time told Jason that if he wanted to be a pastor one day, then being a church janitor was great training. And you know what? He was absolutely right. Learning to see the little details no one else notices, understanding how much effort goes into seemingly simple events and tasks, and serving others. Not to mention a heaping helping of humility!

  • The day after preaching or holding a service is usually kind of a down day. I don't know if teachers or others who speak publicly experience this, but there is kind of a let down that happens. You build yourself up for something, and when it's over there's a bit of an emotional and physical lull. When you speak, especially about spiritual things, you put yourself out there. You feel a bit vulnerable. Plus, you're just plain tired. Monday mornings, I have a mother's group that I take the kids to. It's a group a friend and I started a few years ago, and there are some mornings that it is such a challenge just to get up and out the door! I don't mean that I'm depressed or anything, just a little flat, I think. I've heard lots of other pastors say this as well. Ha! Don't I sound like a Garfield cartoon or something?

  • With that in mind, we are usually not ready to hear constructive feedback on the service or the message until at least Tuesday afternoon! When I preach, I ask Jason after how he thought it went, and I always cringe a little bit. It's not that I don't want and need to hear feedback, it's just that whole emotional lull thing happenin'.
So for those who are churchgoers, go easy on your pastor at the beginning of the week! He or she is probably a bit out of it.

We love what we do, and it's a privilege to get to do it full time! But it is a different kind of life, one in which the "professional" and "personal" circles completely overlap. Your good friends are also your congregation. The ones you hang out and go to the movies with are also the ones you counsel. And the work day is definitely not a straightforward 9 to 5.

Tonight, the kids and I were driving home from church and I was telling Ava a story from the Old Testament about a priest. (Yes, all our car conversations are about the Old Testament. That, or trying to guess who would beat who in a fight: a tiger or an alien. But usually we just talk about poo.) I was trying to explain what a priest is, and I told her, "A priest was a man who stayed at the Temple, and taught people about God. Like what Daddy does." And she said, "And like you, Mom. I like that you guys are the pastors." It was so interesting to me that she knew that that's what we do. We've never really explained it to her like that in so many words. I hope that she's able to still say that in ten years' time!

Yeah, well. Fried. Gotta go to bed. Be sweet to each other and keep it chill.


  1. ebonically speaking: if we be bees! love you girl. And for the record-Jason is a real pastor- a shepherd that tends to the sheep--yes cleaning up their c--p too! He is a great servant leader----He should give "how to be a good pastor 101" lessonS!

  2. Pass the lasagna, Garfield! LOL

    I love y'all's ritual with the KFC.

    How much "constructive" feedback are y'all getting from your churchmembers? I would quote Weezer to them:

    "If you don't like it, you can shove it, and you don't like it, you love it." Maybe why I'm not a pastor.

  3. Thanks, Donna. And I have to agree--he is the best. :)

    Beck, you make me laugh! No, the church is fab. They are great with positive feedback. Jason and I have mostly learned the lesson I was talking about from each other!

  4. Hey, I'm not the pastor but I can relate, we are the same on sun nights - I am exhausted by Sun night too - we veg out, watch Aust Idol (yes, Go STAN!) and basically don't do very much:)
    Yest was one of those nights for sure after our team mtg, prayer mtg, toddlers, selling christmas party tickets etc etc (let's bring out the violin:))
    I think it's the spiritual and emotional aspect of ministry that's tiring, not necessarily the physical work.
    BTW, I was telling Ron yest that we need to vote for Jason for the servant of the year - but wasn't sure if that was allowed so didn't. Anyway, he has my vote and you too:)
    I'll try to be easy on you guys on Mondays and Tuesdays from now on :)

  5. I'm not a pastor, but as a church leader I totally get the let-down thing. Reminds me of Elijah after that whole prophets of Baal situation... he should have been doing a happy dance (I mean, fire from heaven? Come on!) but instead he feared for his life and wanted to be done with it all. Anyway, Elijah sleeps it off, and then eats and drinks a few times before his strength is renewed enough to continue with what he's being called to do. Thankfully your situation isn't quite as intense, but in my non-expert opinion there's spiritual value in vegging out with wine, chocolate and takeout after a kingdom encounter. =)

  6. I like reading about your experiences as pastors - it's really interesting. I think your congregation are extremely lucky to have both you and Jason to turn to.
    I guess it doesn't surprise me that you feel vulnerable/tired afterwards. IMO, you're putting yourselves out there in a really personal, giving kind of way (if that even makes sense)

    And like Rosemary, I will be gentle with you on Mondays and Tuesdays! :)

  7. After preaching at two services on Sunday morning and leading Bible study, my dad would spend his Sunday afternoons napping on the couch! And he definitely can relate to the church janitor description, especially after weddings. Have a relaxing Monday!

  8. I'm not a minister, but an actress, and I totally understand that day after let down thing. You totally throw yourself into something with your heart and soul, and then it's just done. And you may feel like you did a great job or a poor job, but either way you need some time to regroup and kind of let your molecules resettle. Probably why so many actors are drunks. And well, maybe pastors too. Well, priests anyway (I'm Catholic so I can jest).

    BTW, nice to hear they've got KFC down under. That Colonel is everywhere.

  9. i call it the "monday morning hang-over." which is probably only funny to me. But self-amusement is the best kind.

  10. Hi Gretchen! Yeah, I can imagine that actors might deal with that. And you may have a point about pastors... :)

    Amy--yes! It does feel a bit like that, I was thinking the same thing yesterday.

    Cassie--I think people who are active in their churches probably have much the same feeling!

    And Mai, I don't know if they're lucky, but I guess we're what they got! :)

    Rosemary, you guys are champions! Sunday was a BUSY day for you too, I know.