As I look at the current stated of education – specifically the meddling of government in education – I’m more than a little distraught. Education is the only field I personally know of where we use untested, unproven strategies and have no idea if they will actually work or not! From the way the day is structured to the way students are divided by age even to the time of day that school starts, none of it is based on any reliable research. And yet amazing educators are called to persist in a system that is very broken. If only there was some way to allow educators to do what was truly best for the students instead of what was most convenient for the money people.
Quick note: I already posted a couple of disclaimers in the first post that I won’t repeat here. Today’s thoughts are inspired by the fact that I have personally experienced how touching it is when a congregation member expresses appreciation.
Are you ready for part 2? I’ll be honest – this one could be tough. Are you sure you are ready? Okay – here goes.
Say “Thank you”. Often
Sound simple? Or maybe a little ridiculous?
Let me explain why it matters. Your pastor is on duty 24/7. Literally every day of the year. Sure, he may take a vacation. But I assure you that if a major crisis came up – for example, the death of a church member or an illness that put them in serious condition – there is a strong chance that your pastor (and his family) will lose their vacation so he can be there for the person in crisis. Those big family holidays that so many choose to visit family for? Your pastor can’t exactly do that. He has to work on Christmas Eve, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day. . . you get the idea. In the last post I mentioned the fact that a Pastor and his family may live several hours away from extended family. If he’s working Christmas Eve and the family lives several hours away (in our case, 10 or 17 depending on which family we would visit) he will either have to fly ($$$) or spend most of Christmas Day driving. His family too.
I’ve had date nights cancelled because a church family member had been rushed to the hospital. Other dates have been interrupted (sometimes repeatedly) when we ran into members of the congregation around town and hubby stopped to chat. Same goes for family outings. It’s just the nature of the “business”.
And Sunday? Craziest day of the week in my house! I was once chatting with another pastor’s wife when someone joined our conversation. Somehow we got on to the topic of Sunday and this third person made the comment about Sunday being a day for slowing down and spending time with family. My pastor-wife friend and I looked at one another for a moment and, at the exact same moment, burst out laughing. Sunday is pretty much the complete opposite of slow and family-focused in my house! Most pastor’s families would say the same thing. I love hearing my hubby preach so that’s the trade-off for me. But he is busy working, connecting with church members, etc. from the moment he arrives in the building (before 8 a.m.) until we get home four hours later(or thereabouts).
In every congregation, there is that one person who is just never completely happy with the pastor (or his spouse or his kids) and is very willing to let the pastor know when he or a family member has failed to meet expectations. My hubby once got a complaint because my son was slouching in church. My son runs the computer that is hooked up to the projector and it sits on the pew next to him so sometimes he slides down in the pew to be able to see the screen and click the arrows at the right time. To me, griping about slouching is silly and petty but hubby still has to field those complaints and I’m so grateful he does!
I’m not sharing any of this to gain sympathy or point fingers. There is no other profession that I know of that requires a person to be on-call, ready to go at a moment’s notice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In a discussion with other pastor’s wives about this very issue, one of the women said, “Since we can’t change the 24/7 demands of the job, what do you think would make it easier?” There was a moment of silence until one of the wives spoke up and said, “Thank you.” We looked at her, confused, until she explained: “It would be nice for hubby or the family to hear a ‘thank you’ now and then. I’m not looking for more money or more days off. Just some appreciation.”
Want to ease the strain of a 24/7 on-call lifestyle for both your pastor and his family? Let them know how much you appreciate his willingness to be so available and how grateful you are for the families willingness to roll with the schedule changes that happen at a moment’s notice. A simple “Thank You” means more than you can possibly know.
Ever get involved in something and wonder if you made a difference? The end of my summer youth theater has caused some introspection both years. And part of the conversation I have with myself goes something like this: We did two shows with a total of five performances. Had over three hundred audience members between the five performances. Everyone had fun. The dinner theater food was great. But did it really make a difference?
Such was the conversation I had with myself this morning. I blame the mopey attitude on the fact that I was still recovering from the all-night cast party we had from Sunday evening till Monday morning.
Then I went looking through some e-mails, cleaned out some text messages, and deleted some old Facebook messages and got my answer.
In each of those places I discovered at least one message from a cast member of the High School/College age show thanking me for allowing them to take part in the performance. For one young person, it confirmed that they should be pursuing a major in the performing arts. For a couple of others, it was their first theater experience ever and they discovered that they kind of like it alot. For three others, life is rough right now for a variety of reasons. For them, rehearsals and performances became a safe place to be.
That last reality breaks my heart and humbles me all at the same time. I enjoy working with high school and college age kids and I love musical theater so it makes sense to put the two together. We have a few laughs, do some good work on stage, and make some memories. To know that I gave even just one young person a place where they felt safe is more than I could have hoped for and gives me all the motivation I need to do it all again next summer.