2021 was the first year I wasn’t a pastor since 1999. It was a good year. Here are the things I enjoyed the most about not being a pastor:
–I never spent a Sunday afternoon worried why someone wasn’t at church.
–I was not concerned with how many people were at church and I never once took it personally when hardly anyone showed up.
–I loved attending church and having no official responsibility for anything.
–Often I would enter church and just go sit down. I didn’t have to schmooze, or talk about all the problems people had with my sermon, or feel awkward when they bring up their weird political points in the hearing of someone else with opposite political points and the ensuing argument I’d have to referee. Lovely.
–Hardly anyone told me about their health problems. I am so grateful I don’t have to know all the details of old ladies’ bowel movements anymore. I can’t express to you how thankful I am for this.
–No one emails, calls, texts, Facebook messengers me with stupid excuses why they weren’t at church.
–I could go to the store after church on Sundays and not run into people who skipped church who would then get all weird and guilty-defensive around me.
–When people ask me what I do for a living I don’t say “pastor” anymore, which is great because people always got weird when they found that out.
Those were the things I was glad to not have to do anymore. But there were things I missed:
–No one calls me with theological questions anymore. It’s like once you’re not a pastor you forget knowing the Bible I guess.
–Preaching is gone. I loved preaching and studying. I miss preaching and studying.
–I miss getting paid.
–There were many confidential issues people would bring to me, a closeness and a desire to help, which again, now that I’m not an official pastor, people don’t think I can help anymore.
–As awkward as weddings, funerals, and hospital and death bed visits were, it was also nice to be in those personal moments with people. Those things developed friendships and closeness, a unity that is now missing. I’m not called anymore to comfort and console.
That’s about it. The things I miss, I miss much less than the things I don’t miss. I’m glad I got out when I did. Will I ever get back in? It’s possible, but it’d have to be the right situation at the right time in the right place and I have no idea how any of that would be determined.
I was always curious what life would look like outside of pastoral ministry. I’m pleased with it. I still go to church several times a week. I still read the Bible. I still check in with people. We still have people over to the house.
It’s pretty much the same minus all the unbelievably annoying aspects of pastoral ministry. I’m grateful for that. I’ve already gotten opportunities to preach and teach at our new church, so that’s been enjoyable.
So, it’s worked out well. Thanks for reading.