Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Preacher's Work Is Never Done

Many of you have probably heard the old joke that preachers only work for 3 or 4 hours a week. Until you live and work in a preaching family full time, it is difficult to imagine just what is involved in the work, and why I stress that it is a lifestyle! I grew up with my Dad preaching part time and in addition, he was always very involved in the local work of the church. I remember talking to my husband about life as a preacher's kid when we were dating. He was skeptical of the fact that I really understood what he was talking about, but I assured him I understood completely. I. did. not.

What we do is a lifestyle - a rather unique lifestyle, and I feel like I'm still trying to figure out how to gracefully juggle the life we live. It is ever-changing according to present needs, and flexibility while maintaining a routine for my children is a real challenge.

So... the title of my post: A Preacher's Work Is Never Done

Here are some of the jobs a preacher often does:

What you would expect:
  • Preparing and preaching sermons
  • Preparing and teaching Bible classes for Sunday and Wednesday assemblies
If you think a little harder, you might also expect:
  • Writing and editing the weekly bulletin or newsletter
  • Home bible studies with members, community contacts, etc...
Side note - people often call asking for Preacher Man and are surprised when he is not at home. Many do not realize that he is gone nearly every evening doing Bible studies!
  • Writing and organizing class material
  • Changing the message on the sign
  • Answering phone calls and e-mails
  • If there are elders, meeting with them
  • Business meetings - there is preparation involved here too
  • Attending gospel meetings and singings
  • Preaching away from the congregation for special meetings
  • Attending all weddings, funerals, parties, etc... for all members of the congregation
  • Sometimes preaching for weddings and funerals
  • Researching, designing and submitting advertising
  • Maintaining the church website
  • Counseling upon request
  • Initiating difficult conversations - confronting people about problems
  • Visiting folks who are home bound or in prison
  • Personal study and research
  • Prayer
Then there are the weird things that the preacher often takes care of behind the scenes, because who else is going to do it?
  • Taking food and a Bible to a needy person who calls asking for it
  • Turning down the 90% of calls to people who are just asking for money - our standard answer is, "We do not have a fund for that, but we would love to pray for you or help you with your spiritual needs." We get a call about once a week. Sometimes more when rent comes due. We have had people come to our door before. Once about 2 days after we brought our baby home from the hospital. Preacher man left to get the man a hotel room because it was snowing, and I fixed him some food.
  • The church line is a business line. We get LOTS of calls from telemarketers.
  • Spending hours with the shop vac in the church basement because it flooded... again
  • Cleaning the building and restocking supplies because someone forgot... again
  • Shoveling snow... mowing grass... raking leaves
  • Meeting with repair men... after all, Preacher Man is always home (except that he's not!)
  • Trying to help with odd requests - I'll let you use your imagination... there are some odd ones, believe me!
  • Dealing with the mentally ill - some wander in during a service, some call repeatedly... the lady who called herself "The Prophetess" was a particularly interesting one. We try to show compassion, but sometimes, we have to set some boundaries.
  • Attending sporting events and games of some of the member's children to show support
  • Attending community events - good for getting out and meeting new contacts
  • Basically, being on call 24/7. Yes, we have answered phone calls for the church at 3 a.m. on multiple occasions. Even on vacation, we are "on call". Preachers do not have holidays in the sense that they have a day free of their duties. A "day off" is a rather foreign concept now.
I'm sure I have forgotten some things... some very important things. These are just some things I came up with from the top of my head, and I'm sure some of my friends could add a few to the list. I don't write this to complain, I just write it to share, and maybe to help people think. We love our life and feel like it is an honor and a privilege to serve in the way that we do. Our life is dedicated to meeting the needs of others, in particular, their spiritual needs. I can't think of anything better than that!

Show your local Preacher Man some love and appreciation tomorrow! I'm sure he works very hard, and a little appreciation beyond, "good sermon" means so much!

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