Category Archives: Life of a pastor

A Heart of Mixed Emotions

This pastor’s heart is
sad and
happy and
thankful and

Today was the last day of release time; a program where 3rd, 4th and 5th graders are released from school early to attend Bible classes at the church of their choice on Wednesdays. The program runs from mid-September through the Wednesday of Holy Week.

This year I had 22 students; five of which were 5th graders who we sadly said good bye to today. After I held a little “graduation” ceremony where I gave them a “diploma”/certificate we played for a bit outside and then came back inside to wrap things up. At the end I asked the 5th graders to lead the closing prayer. I started and then turned things over to them. What I heard made my heart happy on this sad day. They thanked God for a great year and a fun 3 years. One prayed for the 3rd and 4th graders coming behind them, one even prayed for the homeless. It was such a touching prayer from a group of formerly quiet 3rd graders from a couple years ago.

And so on this sad day my heart was thankful that God gave me the privilege of teaching and growing with this class of kids. My heart is happy that I get to have them in class in the fall as confirmation students; guiding them as they go deeper in their faith. And my heart is hopeful as I reflect on how much they have grown emotionally and in their faith.

Praise be to God!!!

But there is one other little fact that sticks out to me about this class of 5th graders. This class contains the first group of kids that I baptized when I first arrived here nearly 11 years ago; and now they are on the cusp of confirmation. What a joy it has been to watch these kids grow up and I praise God that He has chosen me to stay here this long.

Mixed emotions but all good. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Holy God, you are an awesome God who is up to holy and exciting things. Please continue to use me to guide young people in their faith and continue to guide me through the faith of young people. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The (sad, happy, thankful and hopeful) Pastor -|—

Bring On Holy Week

It’s Holy Week, so watch out and give the pastor some space.

I almost feel like that is what people are thinking around me. True, Holy Week is busy:
~ Five worship services to get ready for
~ First Communion students to prepare
~ Three sermons to write

And on top of that I have two children under two and a working wife.
And on top of that I have my regular weekly responsibilities.
And on top of that the potential for pastoral care emergencies.

So with everything going on in my life I sometimes feel that people are looking at me with pity or relief that they don’t have my schedule or hesitation on whether to call or ask me anything.

The fact of the matter is, YES I am busy this week, but NO, not too busy for ministry and people and the Gospel and whatever else is contained in the fine print of my letter of call. Holy Week can cause more grey hair to make an appearance on my head but according to Proverbs that is just a “crown of glory” (Proverbs 16:31) so I’ll take it.

The other thing about Holy Week for me is that it definitely brings me closer to God as I am carefully studying scripture and planning worship services in order to help people express their worship of God,

(as I do every week, but it just feels more intense this week; if that makes sense)

and it is a holy calling and a holy task that I take very seriously

(not better than anyone else, just different).

But the other thing about Holy Week for me, and especially Easter, is that I generally see people in worship that normally don’t attend worship. And so I have a “captive audience” to slap up across the head with the Gospel. And so I am extra aware as I want to see that gospel slap leave a mark on those CEOs (Christmas Easter Only).

Lot’s going on; lot’s of activity and a lot of opportunities. So don’t shy away from the pastor. Please don’t give me space. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of me. Don’t pity me because this week is busy. What I do ask is that you pray for me and for all pastors and church leaders as we prepare this week.
~ Pray for faithfulness as we prepare messages and worship.
~ Pray for faithfulness as we still have families to care for.
~ Pray for faithfulness as we still have temples (bodies) to care for.
~ Pray for faithfulness as we still have souls to nurture (namely our own).

Holy Week is an awesome and incredible week and I look forward to it every year and saddened when it is done. But I am eternally grateful that the message of Easter is something I get to preach week in and week out, but even more than that, the message of Easter is my hope and your hope all year long.

So come, Holy Spirit, and bring on Holy Week and anything that goes with it. And by the grace of God I will be ready :-)

The Pastor -|—


The Pastor is going paperless tomorrow (except for my Bible and hymnal).

This will be a first for me; chucking the rock solid stability of paper for technology (but I draw the line at chucking my paper Bible). Sure, I have preached paperless for 1 1/2 years (except for that Sunday, recently, that I was thrust into the stone age through my tablet dying) but I’ve always had a paper bulletin and announcements (except for those few many Sundays I lost misplaced my bulletin).

But tomorrow everything goes on the tablet.

Call it a big boy playing with his toy (this is what my wife calls it).
Call it an environmentally conscious person saving paper (I like that).
Or even call it a pastor trying to be more efficient (that works too).

Whatever you call it I am going all in. But I am going to be keenly aware, though, of the possibility that God may humble me through some technology mishap; calling out any technology god I may have. But if that happens I will submit to God’s will and go with the flow.

And if everything does go well, don’t worry, I’m not going to be one of those that invites his parishioners to Tweet comments and questions during the sermon (yes, I have heard of someone doing that). So I am drawing the line (in the sand) there ~ but you never know, I guess. A few years ago I never imagined I would be going paperless during worship. Kind of makes me wonder what I will be doing in five years (or next year, for that matter).

OK, enough babbling, time to get my techno-worship ready for tomorrow.

So wish me luck and may God be glorified, not my technology.

The Pastor -|—


Sometimes a pastor’s “work” takes them out of the office and to a place that looks like a place of rest. For this pastor, my “work” has taken me to my favorite coffee shop…

Drinking coffee
Reading some Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards
And yes, staring out the front window [and now typing this]

My original “work” was to get away and peacefully read but a stirring changed the course of this pastor’s “work”.

The spontaneous writing of this reflection was due to a stirring in my heart to pray. I wasn’t stirred to pray for world peace or to find a cure for cancer. No, nothing like that. I was stirred to pray for two unknown people across the way standing in an employment agency. I have no clue who they are and probably never will. I have no clue what their situation is or what brought them to that place. All I know is that a prayer was prayed for them.

And this pastor probably will never know the fruit of this “work” but that’s OK. Sometimes the Spirit stirs and we know not why. And because I can’t quantify this “work” some may think I wasted my time or the church’s time.

But this was far from a waste of time. Not for those two people.

The Spirit stirring means important “work” needs to be done. And the joy of this “work” is that it’s not my “work”.

So I wrap this up and prepare to do some “traditional work” now and I look forward to more stirrings. But please don’t think I was lazy and please don’t praise my efforts.

This wasn’t my idea. I was stirred.

All praise be to God.

The Pastor -|—

Growing up

One of the joys of serving at a church for as long as I have (10 1/2 years) is that you get to see kids grow up. I have a confirmation student, that as a preschooler, used to hide behind her mom’s leg because she was scared of me. Now she is a spiritually mature confirmation student that babysits my children. I have a crop of 5th graders that will be starting confirmation in the fall as 6th graders. This group contains some of the kids I baptized when I first arrived, including my first baptism.

But last night things hit me a little harder when I attended our local high school’s Winter Fest coronation. A young lady voted to serve as the 10th grade representative in the royal court is a former confirmation and release time student of mine. She looked so grown up last night in her formal dress and her hair all done up. And I found myself wondering how this was possible since it seems like just last year she was one of my 3rd grade release time students.

Wow, where has the time gone?

And then I started to think again about those 5th graders starting confirmation in the fall…

Didn’t I just baptize them?

Don’t get me wrong, I can hardly wait until that 5th class starts this next phase in their faith journey. And I am thrilled to see this 10th grade student of mine grow up, but I can’t help but have conflicting feelings about the passage of time. The good ole days always yields to new, uncharted days; neither good or bad ~ yet.

Part of me wants to turn back time (if I actually could) and prevent these kids from growing up and cling to the good ole days. But to do that would mean losing who these kids have become and who I have become today because of them. Watching these kids grow up has had a big impact on my life. I have learned a lot about my own faith through their questions and searching; questions that only a child-like faith can ask. I have seen these kids grow from standing up in the pew during the offering (one of my 5th graders did this when she was 3 or 4) and shouting, Pastor Eric, I got your money! to wanting to pray for an individual during release time. These kids have grown up and in so many ways. So maybe this is not a bad thing. Maybe I just need to reign in these conflicting emotions and “let them”grow up.

The life of a pastor is filled with so many joys and sorrows; ups and downs; major life moments; and the list goes on. It’s all part of the calling. It’s all part of serving in a congregation for “long time”. It’s all part of the passage of time. The good ole days can’t stay the good ole days forever. They need to yield to a new set of days so they too have a chance to become the good ole days for someone else, maybe even me.

So I praise God that He has allowed me to experience these conflicting emotions. May God grant me what I need to savor the good ole days and welcome the new ones that are coming. May God bless the days that are coming that they may become new good ole days. And I thank God that He has given me these days to enjoy with these kids and I look forward to many more.

And by the grace of God may I continue to grow up as well.

Something out of nothing

One of the many joys for me as a pastor is seeing God create something out of nothing. No, I am not talking about anything magical here but rather the Holy Spirit bringing about a sermon when I had nothing.

Often times I enter Thursday not knowing where I am going with a sermon. I know the text, since I am preaching through the Gospel of Mark, but I don’t always know what the message is. And there are many times when I am anxious about this even though I know I shouldn’t be; even though I know I should trust God.

Today was such a day.

I did my reading and note taking before “relocating my office” to my favorite coffee shop down town. I do this every Thursday (for the most part) and at the same time. I set up my computer, ordered my lunch to be brought to me at 11 AM, got my coffee and scotcheroo and off to work I went. This is my routine.

As I started writing I noticed that my fingers started flowing across the keyboard faster and faster and with purpose. The message started to materialize in front of me like a Star Trek transporter. And as the message became clear I got more and more excited and felt more and more guilty. I was excited as the Spirit was working through me to create this message but guilty that I didn’t trust God enough to not be anxious about it. I have been a pastor for 10 1/2+ years and God has not let me down. Every Sunday I was scheduled to preached, I preached a sermon. Never once did I show up on a Sunday morning with nothing.

And God does this in other ways in our lives; creates something out of nothing:
~ Opportunities to share our faith
~ Opportunities to serve one another
~ Faith where there was no faith
~ Purpose where there was hopelessness
~ Life where there was death

If only I had the faith to see this more often.

Oh God, increase my faith and sharpen my eyes to see you at work in this world.

Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—


Changes and adjustments

I must admit…this new daddy role has taken some getting used to but it is sinking in more and more with each passing day.  There are many things I knew would change and others I didn’t know exactly how they would change.  I guess that just goes with the territory.  I keep learning and keep adjusting.  Eventually I will develop the illusion that I know what I am doing :-)


One of the big things I have been trying to get use to is working from home.  The congregation gave me the gift of working from home during the month of May so I could spend more time bonding with Mayah.  A couple days a week (when my wife is home) I do go into the office.

When this schedule first started I got a little frustrated because I didn’t anticipate how difficult this working from home would be.  I had big plans on how much I was going to get done while Mayah was sleeping.

Silly daddy…

The biggest problem was that I didn’t plan very well; so the first couple days at home not much work got done.  Now…I have planned my week out better and have set more realistic expectations for myself.  I have also adjusted my hours so I can get done everything that is expected of me by others and myself.

Wednesday was worship prep and sermon prep day from home.  I planned worship for Sunday and did some sermon prep reading and research.  Today (Thursday) I am home again but this time I will be fully ready to write the sermon while Mayah is sleeping…despite the fact I didn’t get much sleep last night.  Oh well…that’s what coffee is for.

So here we go…another day at home bonding with my little girl and doing ministry here in Jackson.  The best of both worlds.

The pastor/new daddy -|—