FIRST GLIMPSE: The church
is on fire!
Eric Thomsen is the managing editor of ONE Magazine. Send comments and observations about ONE to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WITH CAUTIOUS STEPS and a devious grin, I crept silently down the parsonage hallway toward the bedroom where my dad lay sleeping—exhausted by a pastor’s typical busy Sunday morning.
Like a cat poised to leap, I crouched on all fours, gathered my nerve, and launched into action. Lowering my shoulder, I crashed through the bedroom door bawling at the top of my six-year-old lungs, “The church is on fire! The church is on fire!”
I could not have imagined the reaction in my wildest dreams. The blanket-covered lump sprang to life and my wild-eyed father—with hair sprouting in all directions—shoved me aside and left the bedroom on a dead run. Horrified, I stood rooted to the spot as I heard the front door slam and my father’s voice shouting for help.
I should have run while I had the opportunity.
Dad’s face was purple when he stalked back into the bedroom. He didn’t say a word, just crossed his arms and glared. Mustering all of my courage, I offered a sickly grin, and sputtered weakly, “April Fools?”
To his credit, he didn’t kill me. I’m sure he considered it.
The incident is just one of the laundry list of memorable moments in the life of this preacher’s kid…like the time a trucker’s CB radio blared loudly through our church organ while dad was preaching about “hearing God’s voice.” Or the fateful Sunday when I decided that it wasn’t fair for one person (the church treasurer) to get all of that offering, and I helped myself. Those rich experiences in the parsonage taught me many lessons about life and even more about ministry. I learned that…
Preachers don’t get time off. Dad was on call, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. From the arrival of a new baby to marital spats to the death of one of my “adopted grandmothers,” his job was never done. I can still remember dad shaking his head in disgust when a well-meaning deacon remarked, “Preacher, you’ve got it made; I wish I could work five hours a week.”
Preachers shoulder the load. The spiritual health of a congregation does not ride lightly on the shoulders of the man of God. I heard the prayers, saw the agony, and witnessed the frustration that goes along with shepherding a church.
Preachers don’t get praised. I’ll never forget the time a deacon cornered me after church. “Boy, your dad’s doing a good job. I’d tell him, but I don’t want him to get the ‘big head.’” If he only knew how much those words would have meant.
October is National Pastor’s Month. Why not take the opportunity to show your pastor how much you appreciate him? If he’s doing a good job, tell him. If things are not going so well, throw your arm around his shoulder and let him know you will stand with him through thick and thin. Take him to play golf. Give him a weekend away with his wife. Let him know you care.