Routines are a sweet assurance to me. Or they are a crutch revealing my need for control. I prefer to have my life ordered, regular and fully expected. I like things to be tidy and that includes my schedule and workload. Now bring that desire for routine into pastoral ministry in a context that is new to me and watch my head explode.
For the past nine months I have been striving to find a rhythm but have yet to achieve one, so I am ditching it and clinging to what is important.
Nearly every conversation I had in the first months on my pastorate would bring up the question of how I was “settling in.” There were moments when I could have answered, “I have the internet and know I need to preach on Sunday” but not much else was settled and it would have been truthful. Instead I would more often answer that things were going good and once I got into a rhythm I would feel settled.
Instead life has been a daily roulette of conversations to have, people to care for, issues to deal with and tasks to be accomplished. The allusive rhythm has not come. Even the routine things like sermon preparation, prayer and elder meetings seem to shift how they come together each week.
Last week I answered the “settling in” question by saying I have failed to find a regular rhythm and was learning to be okay with it. It seems like God is working and I am learning to trust in him more so come what may, I am settled. From that moment I have been trying to live out my response and the words of Paul to the young pastor Timothy have been helpful.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)
In season and out, in rhythm and out, preach the word. As things come reprove, rebuke, exhort, with patience and teaching. Paul is saying pastor the people by preaching the Word, from the pulpit, over coffee, on the phone, wherever! Preach the gospel. It is a tricky time, so be sober-minded and willing to suffer.
Routine is great, but I am learning that I can never put it before the opportunity to minister to people through the Word, which usually means my week will lack consistent rhythm and that is more than okay.