Today Chad and I drove across the wide open spaces of our part of Texas, sometimes chatting amiably, sometimes watching the scenery go by in silence. He spent time listening to speculation about his beloved Dallas Cowboys on sports radio while I dozed in the passenger seat. And at one point we spent a few minutes thinking and talking about our life and the interesting turns it has taken through the years. We never knew that we would wind up here, twenty years into our marriage, happily answering God’s call in our little town. Yet, here we are. God has been so gracious to bring us here where life is simple. The commute to anywhere in our town is four minutes. Trips to our local grocery store are bound to take awhile because there will be friends inside to talk to. Our world doesn’t revolve around money or cars, fashion or fancy houses. Our life here is beautiful and small and unique.
There is a certain simplicity to it. Yet, through the years we have learned just how complicated a pastor’s calling really is.
As people, Chad and I are irrevocably intertwined with others. We are likely to hear deep, dark secrets which we hold close, not even allowed to share many things with each other. We are entrusted with some of people’s most delicate admissions and live through some of their darkest hours with them. Our life is simple in so many ways. Yet, our life is about people, and people are anything but simple. We are complicated creatures filled with all kinds of surprising and delightful and shocking and sad secrets. Every room is at the same time a crowded collection of interpersonal struggles and warm friendships, family strife and sin struggles and amazing examples of God’s grace and mercy. As a pastor’s family, we get a front row seat to all of it.
I have seen Chad carry the heavy burden of failing marriages and sudden deaths, of children with no heat in the dead of winter. I have seen him try to be the ultimate problem solver while problem after problem is laid before him. I have heard his prayers for the many people on his heart and mind at midnight when he should be sleeping.
And while all of this is going on, still he wrestles with his own spiritual battles. Still he studies and tries to flee temptation and undertakes the difficult task of dealing with difficult people, precious people, kind people, and mean people, all while begging the Holy Spirit to keep him from sin. To give him the mind and eyes of Christ. Still he feels the weight of his next sermon, always bearing down no matter what else is happening in his life or the lives of those who need him at any given time.
These aren’t things that pastors can really talk about with the rest of us. They carry a unique load, and one that isn’t easily understood by those of us who don’t bear their responsibilities. It’s a complicated calling.
Chad and I thank God every day for this simple, complicated life. We thank Him for the complicated people who have been entrusted to our care, and we thank Him for the simple message of the gospel, which can cut through the most complicated of circumstances. One thing we have learned in these pastoring years is that every complicated situation really comes down to just one thing: we all need Jesus. Watching Him work in the middle of even the most difficult and crazy circumstances proves it to us over and over again–Jesus is the real problem solver. A simple truth for a complicated calling.
Melissa, Loved your post today; you and Chad are wonderful neighbors too. Small towns often present problems, it takes a special couple to minister to this environment. God sent you to our small town, you both contribute your time, energy, and Love for God. Thank you!
Thank you so much, Ann! We were just talking the other day about how we could be better neighbors. Thank you for your encouragement!
Our church functions with overseers, rather than a pastor. The position of an overseer is of course something that must be “desired,” and men are qualified according to verses such as found in 1st Timothy 3. The big difference I see between an overseer and a pastor, is the overseer still needs paid secular employment to support himself and his family. After that, pastors and overseers alike share the burden of teaching, counseling, comforting, correcting, etc.
Recently we lost one of our three overseers. The juggling act between his work as a high school councillor, where he has to deal with kids who are suicidal, bullied, abused at home, etc., plus issues with his own family, and all that comes with an assembly of God’s people and their needs, became overwhelming. Perhaps we should have seen it coming. Did we misread the signs or were they hidden from us. Even if we had seen the signs, there may have been nothing we could say or do to dissuade him, as he determined that his burden was best eased by moving to another gathering of the Lord’s people, where he could become one of many, instead of being one of a few.
I hope to use the impulse from today’s post, to encourage myself and others in our prayers for a new overseer to either rise up from among us, or to feel directed by God to move to our location, as well as to pray more intelligently for the men, and their families, whom the Lord has already placed among us to take on this burden.
I also hope your own church is reminded of the need to continually pray for you and Chad. Where ever we gather in the Lord’s name, regardless of the sign posted outside of the building, things can only become more difficult for the Lord’s people, as we creep closer and closer to His coming.
Thank you, Russell!
Such a wonderful post. A reminder for us members to always pray for you and Chad. I can not express in words (I’m not as gifted as you in that way) how much we love you both. You were certainly a gift to us in Olney and continue to be a true blessing. God was preparing us as church members for your coming. I remember our Sunday prayers before you came. I used to “mentally” walk circles around the church and pray for the man God was preparing for us .A small town truly has its challenges. I learned that when I worked as a nurse in our local hospital. Friends and family tried to get information from me. Information that was private. I too carry many memories, heartbreaks and confidences that forever with me and can not be shared. We will pray for you, Chad and your beautiful children. I am now convicted to be more faithful to do this daily. Bless you both in your ministry.
Thank you so much, Barbara! ❤️
On the way to church this morning, my pastor/husband asked me how I felt about being a pastor’s wife (interesting, because we’ve been married 35 years and he’s been a pastor for most of the last 20). I told him it was very unique to be married to a pastor, because I was part of a unique partnership with him. When he’s done other non-pastoral jobs, I’ve also partnered with him to an extent, but the ministry allows for an even greater partnership as I walk alongside him in this “simple, complicated life.” I love being a part of it!
Love it, Suzanne!
I have thought so many times about something you said in this post. About people confiding deep secrets that you aren’t to share even with your spouse. I’ve come to deeply appreciate the value of being trustworthy in that way. Too few have the discipline (or the shared value) of not passing on private details that don’t belong to them. My respect for you grew when I read this. And it was an encouragement to know there are more Christians who are disciplined with confidences shared. Thank you!
Diane, thank you so much for taking the time to say this.