Be still and know that I am God…— Psalm 46:10a
Six years ago, I felt a nudge. It took two years to listen to what that nudge was trying to tell me. It got more and more persistent until I say, “Ok, fine, I give up.”
And so, I’m here today… a pastor of a church in rural north coast of California. Technically, I am a Certified Lay Minister (CLM) in the United Methodist Church – which is just a fancy way of saying “Volunteer” Pastor. I do not get a salary, outside of a small token housing allowance and cell phone reimbursement. My contract is written such that the church doesn’t have to pay any retirement or health insurance. I am technically assigned to lead 1/8 time, which is the equivalent to 5 hours a week. Do you know how long it takes to write a sermon?!
It’s hard work. I put in between 25 and 35 hours per week. I know, the question is always, “What do you do all day?” Newsflash, being a pastor is more than just 1 hour every Sunday. During any given week I am working with the finance team, trustees, church council and lay leaders to do the work of the church. I visit church members, or those who are somehow affiliated with the church, every week during my lunch hour (did I mention I also have a full time job?!). There’s newsletter items, bible studies and small groups, writing character references, buying gas cards or reserving hotel rooms for our unhoused community. And, somewhere in there, I also write a sermon.
This is my schedule, well, my theoretical schedule. The reality is, 9 times out of 10, I have to skip going to the gym because I have a Finance Committee meeting. Or maybe I can’t attend my Orchestra Rehearsal because I am serving at our Saturday Gathering homeless ministry.
But I love what I do. There are times where I start to feel pushed down, defeated, like i’m ready to give up. Then that still small voice comes at me again. That nudge that got me into this mess tells me what a beautiful mess it really is and encourages me to keep going.
When I am able to laugh with the children of our church and help them to grow in faith, I remember how much I love what I do. When I encourage the community at large to be in relationship with the unhoused, the broken, the vulnerable, I remember how much I love what I do. When I am exhausted, burnt out, and feeling broken myself, and someone from my church lifts me up, I remember how much I love what I do.
My journey has just begun. This past fall, I decided that I would continue to listen to that nudge; that still small voice leading me to be in ministry. I began the path towards ordination by going back to school to obtain my Master’s in Divinity. Where does this path lead? What does God have in store for me next? I suppose the best thing I can do is to just listen, be still, and know that God is there with me in the journey.