In the Book “I am a Church Member” by Thom Rainer tells the story of a pastor who gets sad news first thing in the morning. The pastor could not grieve the news. The day was coming. Between meetings, counseling, etc. the Pastor could not break down and cry until they got home that evening.
As a pastor you can feel pressure to always “be on” or to be upbeat. As a leader of a ministry the pressure is even greater. No matter what else is happening in my life we still have many people counting on us. The ministry continues. People need to be fed; Kids are looking forward to time with us needs are still out there. Meetings continue especially when the attendees are coming from around the country.
A friend pointed out that poverty does not get to take a day off.
Friday was one of those days for me. I desperately wanted to run away and hide. The day started with multiple phone calls. One of my workers had another death in their family. This one was extremely tragic. Someone shot up my friend’s mom’s home. In the process of the shooting their 6-year-old nephew was killed. Their 10-year-old son was sitting next to him. This is the 5th death in their family in the last 6 weeks. They are obviously devastated.
It was a gut punch to me. I am so tired of all the death and pain. I wanted to cry. I did cry.
But we had a meeting to prepare for that night. We had visitors arriving throughout the day. And a dinner to prepare and serve. We had people coming to the center for shelter and food. Some repairs had to be made. We had kids coming to the center for dinner and an activity. I had a funeral to work with.
I made it partway through the day before I needed to stop and let out my grief. I pulled into a park and sat in the sun. I let it out. Tears fell. I hurt for my friends, I hurt for the family, I hurt for me, and I hurt for the community. I ended up walking through the woods along a creek. All told I gave myself 20 minutes.
Then it was off to be in contact with the family for the funeral. To start cooking dinner. To be in relationship with the people who count on the center every day. To talk with a couple of our partners. To talk with other employees. I had to send 1 employee home since she had a fever. Another employee counts on the first family for rides so she could not make it in. (More on her later.)
I stopped home and spent time with the dogs to give myself a mental break. I am blessed to have the support of Jackie who was a great listening ear and gave me emotional support.
I went back to the center and met with some of our guests. I had a brief meeting with some church leaders. Dinner started on time and was a crazy time. My friend and his wife were planning to prepare and serve the meal but with the shooting could not make it in. We arranged to deliver dinner to our friends and their kids.
Finally, things started to settle down.
Then my phone buzzed.
It was a text message about my other worker. I was informed that she had had an accident at home and was being taken to the hospital. I left in the middle of the worship service to run to the hospital to see if I could help. She was very drugged up but recognized me. The were taking her to x-rays. “She has a really bad leg”
I then had to head to the funeral for a prayer service. While there my friends called to thank me for dinner and to let me know the other employee broke her femur and was being transferred to a hospital in Rapid City. At the prayer service I ran into my only remaining employee who was there to mourn the deceased. She was shocked at the news.
Finally, we finished up the prayer service. I was able to head home. I was able to let it all out and be.
So back to the book. The author Thom Rainer encourages you to pray for your church leaders. We often have things we cannot share with you. And sometimes keeping these things in can hurt. We feel your pain when you share it with us. We cry for you when you are hurting. We all need your prayers.
God love you and so do we.