I had the blessing of growing up in a pastor’s home. My dad was a pastor of four different churches from birth through high school. During those days I observed the highs and lows of a pastor’s life in the midst of everyday ministry.
Across the street from one of our churches was an auto garage. My dad be-friended the mechanics who worked there. One day they said to him, “We know you work on Sunday but really, what do you do the rest of the week? Play tennis?”
Most of the world sees a pastor on Sundays, and maybe once during the middle of the week, especially in youth ministry. Over the years I have had students call my house during the week thinking I work only on Sundays, Wednesday nights and special events. They assumed the rest of the week I was hanging out watching movies and taking naps.
Eugene Peterson takes a look at this picture by comparing our experience with John of Patmos. John, as you remember, was exiled for his commitment to following Christ. He was caring for seven different congregations but was now separated from them. During his exile he wrote letters to them and was given the words and pictures we find in the book of Revelation. Peterson reminds us when we define ministry only in the “events” we have exiled ourselves.
He puts this all in perspective by stating, “The only hour of the week that had any predictable, uninterrupted order to it was Sunday morning, when the story of creation and covenant was told and the prayers of confession and praise were said and sung. I was learning that for a pastor, the rest of the week was spent getting that story and those prayers heard and prayed in the personal and unique particulars of these people. I had just spent an hour of worship with them but now was mixing it up with them in a world dragons and whores, blood flowing as high as a horse’s bridle, and the news headlines trumpeting catastrophic disasters.” (p.22, THE PASTOR: A MEMOIR, Eugene Peterson).
The life of ministry and shepherding is being in the life of those for which we care, knowing their joys and sorrows, walking with them through life in the good and the bad. Who are the people God is inviting you to know and love outside your Sunday?