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I like to think of myself as a “doer” – that is, somebody who likes to get stuff done. If there is something that needs to be done, well, let’s just get it done. Is there a problem to solve? Let’s find a solution. Is there a role that needs to be filled? I often find myself stepping in to fill the role with rarely a second thought. Things need to happen, so let’s make stuff happen.
I think my doer attitude has been beneficial as your pastor at Faith Lutheran. With the help of our many capable members and friends, my desire to get things done has helped us to accomplish many long overdue maintenance and upkeep tasks around the church and parsonage. Though you may not like all the changes we have made, I hope you can at least rest easy knowing that our potlucks will no longer be invaded by sewer water via the downstairs toilet! As of this month, I have now been your pastor for a full five years, and I am proud to say that the church and parsonage are in much better shape than when I arrived half a decade ago.
Yet, if I am being honest, my default stance as a doer can be counterproductive to the ministry. Often times, pastoral care is not about really doing anything at all, but letting the world stop for a moment. What do I mean? When you lose a loved one, for example, doing stuff can often be the least productive way to deal with your grief, at least right away. Doing things can be a way for us to avoid dealing with the difficult feelings and emotions that accompany loss, especially since it can seem like we are working through stuff when we are actually practicing avoidance. Even more so, though, in moments of grief, it is terrible for those around you (especially your pastor!) to be more focused on getting stuff done than simply stopping and being present with you in the moment. Often times, the last thing you want to be as a pastor is a doer.
The late Rev. Eugene Peterson captured this sentiment well in a famous quote (at least it is famous on Twitter). He wrote, “The busy pastor is a lazy pastor.” Starting out five years ago, I admit that his words were difficult for me to really take to heart. I thought to myself, What does that mean? An inactive pastor is a lazy pastor, not a busy one! A few years later, I am humbled to say that I am beginning to understand the profound truth of his words more and more. I have been called here to kneel and pray for you, to slow down and listen to the needs of others, and to busy myself with making sure that I am never too preoccupied to sit for a moment or two with anyone who could use a pastor.
​This summer, I am working at unbusying myself. I do not wish to be a lazy pastor, and I see that I must unbusy myself to do so. By doing the work of unbusying myself, I am following the work of our Creator who rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2), the third commandment given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 5:12), and the example of our savior, Jesus Christ, who did not busy himself with making sure everyone received a miracle during his lifetime but took time to rest and pray after doing miraculous things among us. It is important to get things done, but it is holy and good that we take time to rest from our labors, too. I pray that we all can value rest just as much as we value the work that we do, and this is my prayer as a doer…
In Christ,
Pastor Seth
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