We have an interim pastor lined up, thank God. But she won't start until October 20, which leaves me with 6 more weeks on my own. 6 weeks in as the only pastor of a congregation of 400, here's what I've learned:
1. preaching every week is a discipline that would require a lot more practice on my part. And is also something I don't really want to do. Possibly ever. I know God is laughing her butt off as I say that. (anyone remember when I informed the Fourth Church session that what I had learned from Colloquium was that I didn't want to be in a church where I had to do three services on a Sunday morning? hahahahahahhaah!! God said.)
2. Preaching every week when you are also responsible for all the other ministries and programs (youth, education for kids and grown-ups, fellowship, etc etc etc) is very difficult. I have complained about this before: that if my job is already nearly 50 hours a week on programs, adding preaching on top of that (without removing any of those other responsibilities for that week) is really stressful. I am working very hard on empowering laypeople to do ministry in all these areas, but that in itself takes a significant amount of work and time, in training and encouraging and resourcing and helping. Not to mention the communication, which generally has to come through me/the office anyway. I am committed to laypeople being the church and "doing church" together, following their calls in the church and in the world, etc etc. But that doesn't seem to be the end of my work, yet.
3. I love preaching and planning and leading worship. I hate turning in bulletins on time every week.
4. I don't know anything about Stewardship and I don't really want to, but all of a sudden it looks like the entire campaign this year will be on "my" watch. Crap.
5. I also don't know anything about money, in general, so of course the Treasurer wants to go over the stuff with me before the session meeting. I miss the days when I could just show up to a meeting and have that be good enough.
6. If you're (well, if I'm) in charge of everything, some things fall through the cracks. The thing falling through the cracks right now: checking up on sick people. Praise the Lord for the clerk of session who went to visit someone I'd visited once...only to discover she'd been moved somewhere else and no one had let us know. I'm pretty sure I should have figured that out sooner, but...there are only so many hours in a day.
7. I really like being an Associate Pastor. I don't want to be in charge of more than I already am. And now that I'm sort of de facto in charge of everything, I worry about what happens when an interim comes and we have to negotiate a collegial relationship as well as the responsibilities that I might end up being sort of territorial about after 12 weeks on my own. In fact, I stress about the possibilities in that working relationship a lot. More than is probably necessary, since I can't do anything about it until she gets here.
8. I need more bookshelves in my office. Every flat surface is covered in stuff and I can't do anything in there until I get more storage. I can't even tell you how tempting the empty bookshelves/table/desk/drawers/entire office next door is.
9. days off are good good things, but rarer than they should be. I want them to be more regular again. 6 weeks...
10. I am very tired. I have been coming home and falling immediately asleep, often on the couch. Monday night I was out cold by 7pm. I don't think I've stayed up past 9 more than once or twice in the past two weeks (aside from sermon-writing-saturday-nights, obv.). I've had two whole days off this weekend, thanks to a guest preacher, and it feels like the most amazing luxury. Except now I don't *even* want to go church tomorrow. (sigh)
11. People are always asking me questions I don't have the slightest idea how to answer. What's up with that?
12. I have more voicemail than I've ever had before.
Okay, I have to stop. I must go to bed (even though I napped most of the day away, post-massage...). Tomorrow, even though I'm not preaching, is still a long day: 3 services, Inquirer's Class, and Middle School Youth Ministry kick-off. For those keeping score at home, that's 7.30 prayer/children's sermon writing, 8.30 worship, 9.30 worship, 11.00 worship, 12.00 inquirer's class, 1.00 youth ministry. woohoo.
I love my job, I love my job, I love my job...
(it's more than a job, it's a calling...it's more than a job, it's a calling...)