"A Regular Guy"
Earlier this month Meri and I took a week away for rest and refreshment. When Sunday rolled around, we decided to go to one of the new church starts located about ten miles from our home. I rolled out of bed about 8:30 a.m., leisurely drank two cups of coffee, played with the cat and then read the newspaper. I was not rushed, stressed or preoccupied with a sermon or details for worship. I told Meri that this is what most folks must feel like on a Sunday morning and it felt good! We drove up to the church about 10 minutes before service time and were directed to a parking space. We walked in with all the other folks clad in jeans, escorting children and taking our time getting to our chair in the worship center. We were incognito and it felt good. I relaxed into the chair, breathed a prayer and slowly entered the spirit of worship. I tried my best not to evaluate the music or the preaching. I just wanted to be a worshipper and enjoy being with God's people in the power of his presence. When the service ended, we were warmly greeted by the worshippers around us. We made our way back to our car and to a local restaurant where no one recognized us and we did not field one question about the sermon or some activity coming up at the church. Strangely, I was homesick for our church and my pulpit by the time we got home. I was thankful for the time off and this great experience of being a "regular guy," yet I was getting excited about returning to our church the next Sunday.
Yes, it is good for the pastor to get away and rest, to be nourished in mind and spirit and disconnect from the needs of the flock, the daily organization and the never-ending writing and visioning of a local church. The church has changed in many ways over the past 2000 years since Jesus gave us the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 16-20) Our charge to reach the world with the Good News and live a life of mercy and love among the world is not finished. And every now and then, like Jesus, we need to go away and just rest and relax.
I am thankful to lead a church that understands and supports this for their pastors. This pattern of work and retreat makes me a better pastor and preacher and a better husband and father. Oh, by the way, I did get in some fishing. While enjoying the peace and beauty of the Keys, I caught 4 Barracuda and 2 small snapper. God is good...all the time!