In these days when life feels hard/soul-sucking in Church World and beyond, here are some simple things that will make life easier/life-giving.
In no particular order:
- Pastors: on the day you baptize someone, write them a letter to open on their 10th birthday (for infants/young children) or in ten years (for older people) about what happened that day. Who was present. What happened. What you hope for them by the time they read it. Who will have your contact information if they want to catch up some day. The pastor who baptized my siblings over sixty years ago did this and I did it as a parish pastor and it’s truly special to have them reach out years later.
- Pastors: we have peculiar lives and often deal with individuals/congregations who make our lives harder. Do not overshare on social media about what frustrating things your congregation is/not doing. Don’t name names in media interviews. Don’t believe that your church/presbytery/colleagues will not read the post where you trashed them. Yes, vent. But vent to friends over coffee or in a private text thread. (Note: people have told me that they have shown up on my blog and – please believe me – I make up stories/change them liberally to protect both the innocent and the guilty.)
- Pastors and Other Faith Leaders: when someone asks you to pray for them (and even if they don’t) ask if you can pray together here and now. And then do that. Don’t wait until you have quiet time at the end of the day. Pray right then. Leave a prayer on their voicemail. Send a prayer via text. This is not about performing. It’s about authentic bonding.
- Don’t ever accept a call that you are not indeed called to. Don’t serve in a church just because it’s in a city where you want to live if you aren’t called there. Don’t serve in a church that will be impressive to your parents/friends if you aren’t called there. Don’t avoid the church in a place you never imagined living or the church of quirky people who resemble The Island of Misfit Toys if God is screaming in your ear that you are indeed called to be with those interesting humans.
- Get out more. Don’t do the same continuing education every year. Read a book in a genre you usually don’t read. Talk with a person with whom you totally disagree. Try a cuisine you’ve never tried. Sit on a bench and watch people (but not in a creepy way.) Walk somebody else’s dog. Go to a 24/hour diner at 4 in the morning and notice who else is up late.
- Support a B Corporation.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone.
Jan, When I read #4 I thought of our friend Doris Boyd. During the pandemic we drove uptown with firewood for residents of tent city. One of the men had a sad story to tell us. I told him we would pray for him. Doris commenced then and there with the car pulled over and traffic whizzing by to say a lengthy heartfelt personal intercessory prayer for this guy whose life was in shambles. It was a beautiful lesson for me. I try (mostly unsuccessfully) to follow her example.