The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
Ephesians 4:11-13 (NRSV)
Now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
Luke 5:15-16 (NRSV)
You may wonder what these two verses have to do with one another, let alone the title of this pondering. If you’ll bear with me for a few minutes, I will try to explain. I want to take a moment to address a concern which has surfaced in the past few months. That concern is around my recent call as the Associate Director of Disciples Men and the subsequent discussion about my status as a part-time, or bi-vocational, pastor.
I want to begin by asking for your forgiveness. I have not always been the pastor I long to be. I have missed the mark, fallen short, and stumbled in this calling regularly. That became abundantly clear to me when you gave me the opportunity to take a sabbatical in February. Those few weeks away helped me to gain some much-needed perspective. Furthermore, the time away helped me to reconnect with my call to ministry, specifically to serving the community of Marshfield as the pastor of this church. As I have reconnected with my calling, I have also been rejuvenated for the work of ministry, both to the local church and community, as well as the larger church through the work of Disciples Men.
So, what does that mean for us as a community of faith? First, and foremost, it means that I am re-committing myself to you as your pastor. My intention is to work every day to be who God is calling me to be, and to live into the ideals I have set for myself. One way I intend to live into this reality is the formation of a Pastoral Support Committee. For several years I have asked the Elders to serve in that capacity, but I believe it is important to have another set of people who can support me, and be honest with me, as I strive to be the person God is calling me to be.
I also understand one of the challenges in the past several years is one of availability. As the school year drew to a close, so did my time as a substitute teacher for the Marshfield schools. This was a difficult decision for me, as I truly loved the experience of working with the students, and found that I was able to have some important conversations with them because of my role as a pastor. However, subbing kept me from maintaining any kind of office schedule, and meant that I was also unable to answer my phone while at school.
Additionally, I have resigned my role as the volunteer assistant coach of the MHS Cross Country Team. I simply had to choose where to place my focus, and my choice is to focus my time and energy into ministry. All of that goes to say that I will be keeping much more regular office hours.
You can expect to find me at the church Monday through Wednesday from 8 to 5 (with a break for lunch) and Thursday from 8 to noon. (There is a caveat here, I do have some standing meetings in the mornings, and will be away from the office for visitations from time to time.) However, I am available on my cell phone. If I cannot answer because I am meeting with someone, or driving, please leave me a message.
All of this relates to the two scriptures I quoted. Paul tells the Ephesians that the role of pastors is to equip the saints for the work of ministry. That means we are all responsible for ministry, for living out the love of Christ in our community and serving one another as Jesus commands. And, at the same time, John reminds us of the importance of sabbath. I would ask for you to pray for me, asking God to grant me the wisdom to discern when to work and when to rest. And, for the strength and courage to live into being the person God is calling me to be. I am truly thankful to be called to journey alongside you as we follow God together.