You know what drives me nuts? (Granted, there are so many things on this list that, whatever you said, you’re probably right.) Today, it’s people that work in full-time ministry.
Yes. I know. I’m one of them. Just hear me out.
This hasn’t always been my life. Before we became missionaries, El Chupacabra and I, we were normal people. We had jobs and stuff. Ok, he had a job (he was a cop), and I occasionally took on something part-time for extra cash. And we had kid stuff, too. Homework, and soccer, and cub scouts, and karate, and science projects, and book reports, and dentist appointments, and play dates. And we served in ministry. Youth group, small groups, one on one discipleship, retreats, and all the relentless and mostly pointless meeting associated with all of those things. And we had house junk; repairs, remodels, re-mess-it-all-up-and-start-overs. Oh, and there was family stuff. Grandpa so-and-so’s birthday, Cousin so-and-so’s such-and-such, Aunt so-and-so’s graduation. And then throw in the occasional wedding, baby-shower, neighborhood barbeque, poker night, random get-together, PTA fundraiser, or whatever. That was life back then.
It looks like chaos when you write it down, but it’s, pretty much, doable. Ok, maybe there’s so much to do that you double book yourself, by accident, once in a while. And maybe you have to worm your way out of something wretched, like a baby-shower, because you got a better offer, like the PTA fundraiser. (Which sounds like a needle in your eye, but is in fact awesome - IF - said fundraiser features a fully catered dinner and an open bar - AND- you and your “Mom friends” allow all of your husbands to graciously bow out of the occasion so you can have a “ladies night” which means arriving early to get a table near the dance floor so that you’re close enough to see the drunken swingers heaven that is about to play itself out right in front of your face. What happens at the PTA fundraiser, stays at the PTA fundraiser! Except for the herpes. That happens for a looooong time after. I’ll say nothing more. Except that women in their 30’s should not be doing shots in the bathroom...Or dancing on tables...Or under them.)
Anyhooo, we had a LOT to do. And we did it. We figured it out. We arranged and rearranged our schedules to make it all fit. And it did. And then we left all that and became missionaries. And everything changed.
I”m gonna be totally honest here and just say this: It’s RIDICULOUS how flexible our lives are now. RIDICULOUS.
People that work in full-time ministry have it so so so easy. I’m not even kidding.
Here’s why. All of those things that we had to fit into our lives before, all that stuff we had to jam in, all that crap we did around work? Yeah, now it is our work. For real.
When we were normal people, our work schedules did not include “Spending time with our sons”. El Chupacabra’s boss didn’t give two shits if he spent enough time with his kids. It was not his employer’s problem. It would have been absurd for him to go to his Sergeant and say “Hey, Sarge, I’m gonna be taking off every Friday afternoon to hang out with my kids”. And if he just didn’t show up, he would have been fired. Fired. Because he had a JOB to do.
He couldn’t get paid to spend all afternoon on Facebook and call it “communicating”. Or, balance his checking account and call it “finance”. Or hang out with his church-going friends, youth group guys, Bible study partners and call it “discipleship”, or non-churchies and call it “outreach”. He couldn’t write a blog about being a cop and call it “public relations”, and get paid for it. That’s just not how it works. The sheriff’s department would have said with a smile, “That’s all well and good, you go for it, you do those things, but you do them on your own time. Son. And if you do them on work time, you’ll be fired.”
In our house we call it “the real world”. Churches aren’t part of it. You know this because on Mondays, churches are ghost-towns. Sure, you’ll find the secretary there, answering phones, and maybe a few others who prefer working on Mondays because “the office is so quiet”. But a lot of people who get their checks from the church don’t work on Mondays. You know why? Of course you do. Because for them, Sundays are a work day. They arrive early, and leave late. They’re tired from all the serving, and shaking of hands, and praying. They need a break. And this may be true.
BUT, it makes me so mad that in the church we constantly say “You need to Serve! You need to be serving!”, and the ones we hear it from the most are the ONLY ONES getting paid to be there. That guy? The one who runs the sound equipment for every service on Sundays, he has to be at work bright and early on Monday morning. And, depending on the size of your church, there are hundreds more like him, serving many hours a week outside of the hours they put in at their actual jobs. Pastors and missionaries should be the last people to be out of touch with “the real world”. The very last people to be unaware or indifferent to what “serving” looks like to people who aren’t getting paid to be there.
It’s just so weird. It's like the moment we became missionaries we became entitled to this kind of attitude, like, “Ministry is my Job. I’ll do what I want!” (that's my Cartman voice)
So here’s what I’m NOT saying:
I am NOT saying that everyone in full-time ministry takes advantage of their position to escape the busyness that many others live with. But some do.
I am NOT saying that everyone in full-time ministry is so far-removed from “the real world” that they don’t recognize or appreciate what it means to have those volunteers serving by their side; vacation hours spent on youth-retreats, evening meetings at church after 9 hours at work, squeezing their Bible time, prayer time, discipleship time, and Facebook time in around, or over, their family time. (Dear Volunteer, Some of us full-time ministry workers see what you do, see how much you give, and it astounds us, and we want to be more like you!! With Love and Admiration, the VWM)
I am NOT saying that full-time ministry isn’t a legitimate line of work. I understand that it can be cyclical, extremely busy at one time, very quiet at another. I get that. And I get that the flexibility that we are afforded by our work allows us to prioritize our families and others that we’d like to invest in. Call it a perk. But, please, don’t call that “work”. Don’t give yourself a pat on the back (or an hour to sleep in) because you mentioned Jesus at your kids t-ball practice last night. There are millions of guys just like you doing the same thing...for free. That’s not “work”, that’s just living like you're a follower of Christ.
I am NOT saying that everyone in full-time ministry is a lazy bastard. But, like, 80%?..um, yes. Of the 20% left, 10% are crazed work-a-holics, and the last 10% are healthy 40 hour a week-ers, that set a schedule filled with activities related to the ministry for which they are being paid and honoring their families and their God by sticking to it, and fitting all the other junk in around it, just like in “the real world” (not to brag, but El Chupacabra is in this category. And I’m... okay...I'm in with the lazy bastards...hence I have time to write this blog).
This is not about bashing pastors, or missionaries. This is about applying an ethical principal to what they (we) do. My question is; Is it ethical for a pastor to include time to write a novel in his work day? Or, is it an ethical use of my time, as a missionary, to, say, “invest” in my relationship with my husband by taking him to the movies at 3 o’clock on a weekday when we both have other things we could/should be doing. Is this ethical?
And my other question is this; Do we expect more from lay-servants than we do of paid servants? If yes, does that really make sense?
Sorry... just a little rant.... but I feel much better now. Thank you.
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