The Ministry Is Also a Job

Later this evening, I’m off to direct a wedding rehearsal for a young couple who asked to rent our sanctuary. They don’t belong to any church, and thus don’t have a pastor, and so I’m performing their nuptials tomorrow, too. This wedding, which I’m doing for near-strangers, has rearranged a big part of my weekend; for instance, it’s interfered with my regular schedule of keeping my granddaughter on Friday nights.

You want to know the truth? I hate doing weddings. Any weddings, even those for people in my congregation, even for family members. I can’t tell you exactly why I despise these ceremonies. They’re not that painful. But I just don’t like them.

Yeah, yeah, I know–I should be honored to play a role in a couple’s big day, as they’re embarking on a whole new life. Blah blah blah. But usually I’m more annoyed than honored.

Which reminds me again that while being a pastor is, all of us hope, a calling–it’s also a job. And like any other kind of job, it has its good and bad points.

Here are other things I don’t like about the ministry: Refereeing personality conflicts among deacons, musicians and elders. Raising money. Dealing with transients (who more often than not turn out to be professional scam artists trying to rip off the church). Chopping weeds and pouring concrete on men’s Saturday workdays.

Here’s what I do like: Researching sermons (I enjoy the research more than the actual preaching, although preaching is OK, too). Facilitating the discussions in our Wednesday Bible studies. Playing Rook at our monthly Family Fun Nights. Hanging out after services with church members, talking about the latest hit movie or UK sports. Watching the Holy Spirit drastically improve people’s lives. Helping kids grow up into responsible adults. Committing gluttony at pot-luck dinners.

Before I made the transition into the full-time ministry, I worked in the secular marketplace. I still do some non-ministerial work on the side. I’ve never found any job, secular or religious, that’s perfect. Probably because I’m not perfect. In any job, there are things you like and things you don’t, things you’re great at and things you stink at.

I think this is something church members should remember about their pastors. Ministers may be called by God, but they’re also human beings. They’re not going to be equally gifted at, or equally pleased to perform, every ministerial duty. It’s just not possible. By and large, they’ll do whatever they’re supposed to, and do it with at least a half-hearted smile. But their souls are in some tasks more than others.

 

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  1. said:

    So, how did the wedding go? Do they know you wrote this?

    March 10, 2009
    Reply
  2. Paul Prather said:

    Well, we got’em married. That’s all I’ll say. It was a unique event. … I’m sure the couple didn’t read the blog. On the other hand, pretty much everybody in my family & congregation realizes I’m not fond of weddings. It’s kind of a joke to them. They got their quirks, I got mine.

    March 11, 2009
    Reply
  3. vanbussum said:

    like you, i don’t like everything associated with my job. i’m a family physician. it too is a calling and i often have to remind myself that what i do isn’t just for me, it’s for them. i have followed your newspaper articles and radio interviews for years and i admire your perspective. see, you never know just how many people you reach and how many lives you touch. thanks for the work you do. i think this website is a great idea and i predict that mr. manson will be very successful. thanks.

    March 14, 2009
    Reply

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