The other day I had an opportunity to be a very lengthy writing from Pastor Joe McKeever.
He’s an generously wise Pastor with years of experience. In this writing, someone asked him a question and he provided the response. I’ve provided the question and his answer below.
I (as I’m sure most preachers and pastors can) could identity spot on with his answer.
I hope it provides some perspective for you and some encouragement for you…depending on which seat you’re in.
I’ll tell you one story from my ministry. One Saturday afternoon many years ago, at one o’clock, we held the funeral for Susan Edmondson at the United Methodist Church down the street because our sanctuary (First Baptist) was decorated for a wedding that would be held two hours later. Susan had grown up in our church, was a popular and well-loved young woman, the youngest child of her older parents, and had been the victim of a bizarre accident. Working in an art store in New York City, that day she had moved a huge piece of art—a heavy column or something—by “walking” it back and forth. As she turned and walked away, it fell on her, crushing her skull. She never knew what hit her. We were all devastated.
The church was packed out with heartbroken friends and family. I recall none of the details of the funeral, but will never forget the anguish I felt trying to be the family’s pastor that day.
Then, a short time after that funeral, we gathered in the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church to unite Nathan Wright and Susie John in marriage. We did everything we could to rejoice with them.
It was one of the hardest afternoons I’ve ever known. When it was over, I went home and had trouble sleeping. The next morning, Sunday, I was expected to get up and function as usual, preaching two morning services and one that night. But my heart had been ripped out.
I knew then why some people turn to liquor or drugs. They have to have some relief.
A pastor does this a few times and learns to protect himself by not entering so deeply into the pain or rising so high with the joys.
Hold her in the road. Steady as she goes. It’s what a pastor does.