Where’s That Darn Magic Wand?

July 19, 2011

A number of years ago–MANY years ago, in the BC (Before Children) days, I was talking across my back fence with our neighbor. He knew I was a Presbyterian Minister, and finally the question came out: “So what do you DO exactly?”

I laughed and tried to explain, but it’s a little like asking someone in sales to explain what they do, or an attorney to explain what they do. When you need them, and you are with them, you get it, you understand, but I guess there is the sense that Ministers just sit around all day doing nothing until Sunday, when they “work.”

Fear not, I’ll not bore you with the details, but rest assured that I really do work more than one day a week, and on that day, more than just the one hour that you may see me. I would guess that on average I log well over 60 hours a week, and if you add in the hours of the night that I wake up and lie in bed thinking about, praying about, wondering about things, well, the hours add up.

Trust me, Pastors earn their keep. OK, maybe not all of them, but the ones I hang out with do.

One of the things we do many days is intersect people in either their best or worst moments. And this is one of those weeks. To start things off, I am carrying Alexander, our emergency Pastoral Care cell phone (Why Alexander? It comes from  2 Timothy 4.14: “Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm.” When that phone rings, you really don’t look forward to hearing what is on the other end, and it pretty well scuttles a night’s sleep or your weekend plans.) Then there is the fact that I am being shuttled through hoops in trying to visit a member of our church who is, shall we say, a “guest” of one of our county facilities. Then there are the phone calls and emails that come in with concerns, some minor, some MAJOR, and people need (as well as want) attention.

Their (adult) children are making big mistakes. This guy’s marriage is on the rocks. This couple just got engaged and wants to meet. That guy has something he would like to talk about. The leader of a small group needs some help dealing with a problem person. A Sunday School class needs some help. The economy–which was supposed to turn around months ago–is taking homes and security (and marriages) away.

Add in there the reading and studying that needs to be done to stay up on life, and sermons to prepare. I know of several Pastors who have lost their jobs because they really did not do anything, and were downloading sermons off web sites on Sunday mornings. I’m not one of those, and even when I have several sermons on a particular passage of Scripture, I demand of myself that I start from scratch each time I face the pulpit.

Programs to plan, advance notice of programs to envision (why do they not teach marketing in Seminary?!), I could go on.

Today I had lunch with someone I have known for about 20 years. Lunch began with the question of whether our conversation was considered confidential. I said that it was protected both legally and morally (unless he told me about a heinous crime he had committed.) Then for the next however many minutes I listened to a downward spiral of life that was the result of nothing he had done really wrong, but now a houseful of life is on the way down, fast.

For years, I have looked for a magic wand. Not a play one, but a real one. Yeah, I know they do not exist, but I’d like to have one all the same. I wish I could wave my magic wand and make people’s troubles go away. But I can’t, because they don’t exist.

Curiously, when I was a youth, I really wanted to be a professional magician. I remember saying that when I was meeting with a Presbyterian Minister as I worked on my Boy Scout “God and Country” award, and watching him laugh. At the time, I thought he was making fun of me. Today, I wonder if maybe he was laughing with me, not at me–as if he wanted one, as well, but he knew they were not real.

Still; if I had a magic wand, I could do a lot of good. MAN, I wish I had one!


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