This is hard: Pastoring

It is Thursday night, the end of my week. Friday and Saturday are wide open for me this week, two days to relax and clean the disastrous kitchen and do laundry before Sunday starts things all over again.

You'd think that arriving at the "weekend" would be enough to relax me.

But it took a seriously delicious dinner, a FaceTime with my parents, cuddling Sam, taking a long bubble bath while listening to a favorite podcast (using baby bubble bath), changing into PJ's, and half a beer to finally get me wound down.

There are plenty of things to love about being a pastor. That you, in the words of a colleague, "get paid to love people." That I have a super-flexible schedule. That I get to do a wide mix of things, from counseling to writing to music. That I get paid to meet folks for coffee.

But let me tell you. Being a pastor is hard.

I could make you a list of ten people, just off the top of my head, who are going through really rough stuff right now. And I can do a lot of things and say a lot of things, but I cannot - CANNOT - fix what they are going through. It makes your heart tired.

I spend more time than you'd imagine answering emails and managing details, which is fine except for those weeks when you've barely been able to keep up and are anxious that you might have forgotten to do something or let someone down.

There are weeks when I pay my $1.25 for coffee at Java John's, and then a couple dollars' worth of $.50 refills, and still can't come up with a decent amount of inspiration for a Sunday sermon. There are days when I receive more negative emails than positive ones, and days when people seem to understand my professional (and personal spiritual) committment to grace and forgiveness as an open door to say things and act in ways that are less than kind.

Looking for God in everything means that you get pretty sensitive to the needs and burdens of the world. You worry a lot about the state of the world. You feel things deeply. You slip into pastor-speak as your default mode of small talk. You find yourself saying things like "How are you?"

There's a reason that this line of work is called a CALLING. Because you don't do it for yourself. You don't do it for fun, or because you want to. You do it because you can't not do it. You do it because something in your heart has absolutely no choice in the matter.

And so sometimes, you find yourself watching mindless TV at midnight in flannel PJ pants, nursing a beer, and as relaxed as you are and as relaxed as you will be for the next day or so, your head and heart are already turned toward Sunday, toward the start of the new week, toward that irresistible pull to care for hearts and change the world.

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