I am now about one year into my ministry as a pastor. I’d like to share with my readers my some reflections of experience in ministry. This will be my first post on this topic and I hope it will inform, bless and enlighten some readers. Some of you have been reading this blog since I was still in seminary and have found that I’ve been posting less frequently now. Time is more precious now. For those who think that pastors only show up in the pulpit on Sunday mornings and get paid a regular salary for one day’s work, I’ll have to enlighten you.
So far, pastoral ministry has been very enjoyable—enjoyable in the sense that it doesn’t really seem like work in the negative sense. However, I have to say that it is still hard work (i.e., time, sweat, and tears, that is). I got into ministry because I loved speaking about the good news of Jesus Christ to bring encouragement to people. Now that I am in ministry, the time I have to do ministry is limited.
Pastoral ministry requires spending time studying and reading for sermon preparation and then actually preparing and crafting the sermons; visitation with parishioners and getting to know them; teaching young people the basics about the Christian faith (confirmation); and counseling people who are preparing for baptism and other Christian rituals.
Just before completing my degree, I had completed a one-year paid internship. A one-year internship may seem long in comparison to some seminaries but it’s valuable. When I got my first full-time call, I felt like I was up and running. Upon completing my Master of Divinity degree in seminary, I served in a part-time temporary as Pastoral Assistant at my home congregation of Zion Ev. Lutheran Church for about 6 months (of which I am very grateful for because there was no lag time in waiting for my first call (or charge)). Then I received my first permanent full-time call in the “Ministry of Word and Sacrament” (or fancy terminology for “ordained pastor”), which is where I am now.
If anyone reading this is still in seminary and is wondering if you feel you know enough after earning your degree from seminary? After I started full-time pastoral ministry, I still felt like I didn’t know enough. Seminary only gets you started in the learning process of doing ministry. One must continue learning, and often for the less experienced, it’s on the fly. There’s a saying I learned when I was just getting started from my superiors in the business world: “Fake it till you make it.” That’s also true in the work of pastoral ministry (and I say that with much embarrassment because pastors are supposed to be real and genuine in what we do…and we do). As pastors, we shouldn’t be fake; but we do need to be honest and real to our parishioners. Real ministry requires of us to be genuine.
There are many pastors who don’t get to read much about theology, biblical theology, and pastoral ministry after getting bogged down in the daily nitty-gritty of pastoral ministry. I’m glad I keep reading on my own time, and blogging here at New Epistles (though less often now). I know how hard it is to find time to do this. One has to make time to read and learn…so I try my best.
To be continued in future posts…