Ups and downs

I never cease to be amazed at the ups and downs of pastoral ministry.  I am not referring to bad times and good times; joys and sorrows but rather the pace of ministry.

The month of August feels like a warm up run.  You know the real “workout” is coming but in August you are just getting ready.  There are no confirmation or release time classes yet, but I am busy making sure things are ready for the kids; working on the schedule and lesson plans.  Wednesday Night Live isn’t up and running yet but we are busy recruiting teachers.  Even though it feels like we are “off and running” it doesn’t feel busy or rushed…yet.

September hits and now one can say we are “off and running”.  Nearly every weekend is packed.  My weeks are filled with more lesson planning and Bible studies…which is on top off the sermon and worship prep (that is a constant in the weekly schedule).  Then of course in all this madness you have the occasional meeting, funeral and other surprises to make things interesting.  This pace keeps going through mid-May.

This faster pace is made even faster (and sometimes more crazy) with Christmas, Lent and Easter.  But just like speed work is good for a runner, these little bursts of speed in the year are good for the soul.  I mean, after all, it’s Christmas, Lent and Easter…my favorite times of the year.

May hits and all of a sudden things slow down to a crawl.  No more confirmation, release time or Wednesday Night Live and adult small groups take a summer break.  Now my schedule is dominated (in addition to sermon and worship prep) with more visiting and reading.  Reading is a nice change of pace (something I don’t do nearly enough during the rest of the year).  This slower pace maintains itself until August when the whole cycle begins again.

Currently we are in the slow pace (obviously since you know it is June).  I have knocked out a few books already and currently working on 3 more right now.  I am getting caught up on my visits.  And I am thinking about new and exciting things for the fall.  I like this slower pace, but I know I can’t stay in this pace forever…nor do I want to.

I am thankful for the ups and downs of pastoral ministry.  It is energizing and it is humbling.  It is energizing because I have more time to feed my soul during the down times and humbling because during the up times I am reminded that I only can do it by the grace of God.  And I think the up times come just in time because any longer I think I would risk complacency in my faith.

So for the time being I will enjoy the slower pace as I get ready for the faster one that will hit in September.  Until then bring on the books and the visits over a hot cup of coffee.  Fill my soul, O God, and let it overflow.