One day last week, I went to the home of a family in the church to see how the man of the house was holding up after shoulder surgery.
No crisis, no drama, no life-and-death; instead, an opportunity to get to know some folks beyond “hey, how’s it going?” on a Sunday morning. Praying for continued post-surgery healing was really just a cover to sit down with folks in the comfort of their own home.
From there, I zipped around the corner to sit with another couple as their daughter played in a high school volleyball game. Again, no agenda other than being in the same space at the time time and the relational building that happens as a result.
And those two encounters, late on a Monday afternoon, put me in touch with pastoral identity more than anything else last week.
Those opportunities are few and far between at a place like Good Shepherd. Primarily, the congregation needs me to preach, to teach, and to lead. (Oh, and to blog as well.) Whatever pastoral work I do typically occurs during a crisis — marriage counseling, addiction discovery, hospitalization, and even death.
What I miss most about my “Monroe years” (pastoring at Mt. Carmel UMC from 1990-1999) are those opportunities to have the low-stress, non-crisis, “how is it with your soul?” conversations that have long been such a hallmark of the Methodist movement.
So last Monday — when I completed no sermon, resolved no crisis, and made no major decision — I felt like a pastor. Hopefully it won’t be long before it happens again.