By a unanimous vote today, the congregation agreed to the deacons’ and overseeing pastor’s proposal to have me as a pastor in training. I’ll start 1 January 201
2 (make that 2011).
As those of you who know me personally know, I’ve never angled at the pastorate. I have never been convinced I’m the kind of person for it. I’m still not entirely convinced, but I am more certain of it than formerly. This is due to the process followed.
I have the training to be useful in a local church, as long as there’s teaching to do, or worship to lead, or anything that doesn’t require me wearing a suit—I don’t own a suit and have never bought one for myself, or even a coat for that matter. So I was keen to be of use here, and after eventually we joined the church, I was put to work. I’ve been, at times, really busy, and I sometimes miss the long, idle months before joining when my Sundays were a gradually deepening delight of reading, especially after the day of worship, and especially Henry Vaughan.
Anyway, the pastor approached me back in April or so, and wanted me to consider becoming a sort of auxiliary pastor. We have two congregations that work very closely on everything (even the budget), and the pastor of the other congregation right now oversees both. I was not entirely surprised, but still, I wondered that he should ask me. I’ve never had anybody in a position of spiritual authority suggest it to me, though plenty in no such position, which I routinely ignored.
I asked advice from some people and was surprised that the sober people, who knew me and I respected, did not discourage me. So I told the pastor I had no reason to say no.
Well, then the original scheme, which involved another person as well, fell through, and after a long wait I was recently approached again by the pastor. The deacons wanted me to formalize my connections to the church and become the pastor in our congregation, under the direction and guidance of the pastor in the other congregation. I didn’t have any reason to say no, and they felt the congregation would be accepting. So a letter was distributed last week informing the congregation of the proposal. Today they voted and it was a unanimous yes.
And I’m very pleased about the way it took place. My spiritual authority suggested it, godly counsel was to go ahead, we waited a prudent, long time, and then the congregation—having had a good time to learn something about me—confirmed it. Actually, I think the way all that fell into place was ideal.
I also like the situation. I’m inexperienced and I really did not pay any attention to any pastoral anything in seminary. I don’t know what exactly it all entails, but I don’t have to go in and be in charge. I’ll work under the direction of an experienced pastor, and learn what is expected of me. No doubt there are drawbacks: the problem of another culture, my struggles with Spanish, the fact that I’m rather at a low ebb on the books I need and very likely half a dozen unanticipated things.
And all the problems, shortcomings, worrying situations and all those things, without which there would be no point for the job to begin with. Which is not to minimize them. And now to buy a suit . . . and perhaps some shoes that I can wear with a suit . . . and see if this turns out to be the beginning of the rest of my life.