An Old Joke

September 7, 2015
by John Stuart

John 10:4 – When [the shepherd] has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. (NIV)

Like most pastors, I'm often jokingly told that our jobs are easy because we work only one day a week. Usually, I laugh along with the person, who thinks that this is exceedingly funny, but within my heart, I'm actually weeping for myself and other pastors. What most folks never realize is that we're always working, always praying, always thinking about the church and the people, even when we're supposed to be resting, vacationing, or having a day off. If people really want to tell the joke as pastors truly experience it, it should be told this way: Pastors are God's biggest fools — they don't even get time off for good behaviour.

Ministry is the one occupation on earth that has one unique and important part of its function: eternal consequences. The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker deal only with the here and now. Teachers, counsellors, and therapists deal with life issues and personal choices. Business people, political leaders, and CEOs work with expanding their markets and lifetime events. Only ministry deals with the eternal side of things; only ministry outlasts them all.

My main role, like that of many pastors, is to guide folks toward Christ, so that in the midst of all of society's noise, they can still hear His voice calling them. It's not a popular responsibility, which is why fewer folks are becoming pastors these days. It's not something that can be equated with anything else, either, because none of the other wonderful professions, vocations, or careers involve eternity.

Perhaps next time, when you're with a pastor and feel the urge to tell the old one-day-a-week joke, set it aside; instead, let them know how much you are blessed by that one day in the week, when the pastor tries to help you to get closer to Christ, so that one glorious day, you can experience the joy, peace, and love that is everlasting.

Questions for personal reflection: How often do I think about the eternal side of my life? Am I willing to let my pastor help me to seriously contemplate eternity?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to listen for Your voice, so that we may positively respond to Your calling. Enable us to embrace Your words, so that we can actually attach ourselves to Your way, truth, and life. Bless all who seek to lead us to You. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

John Stuart <traqair@aol.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    And we appreciate all the pastors who work so hard on our behalf.


    John – Thank you for reminding us of our pastor’s love and guidance to follow the Lord day by day.


    Bless you and bless your ministry. One day may you hear: “Well done thou good and faithful servant”


    I do sincerely thank you John for your contribution to this joyous reading.
    Blessings to you and yours.


    I am very grateful to ministers. Thank you!
    From your description though they sound a bit like mothers too! Always on duty, always praying for and thinking about her children. Just a thought.


    Good morning John! Praise the Lord for all you Pastors and Ministers! This includes all those who write these Daily Devotionals. I am willing to praise the Lord for my Pastor and let my Pastor plus these daily devotionals help me to seriously contemplate eternity.


    Thank you so much for the reminder of the ones who have answered God’s call to lead me not only to Jesus, also my daily walk.
    After 79 years I am eternally grateful for both local pastors and those that share His word.


    As a Christian who believes that in every daily interchange we have with others we deal in life and death, light and dark, positive and negative, I take exception to the tone of today’s devotional. A pastor should be more in tune with a parishioner’s daily struggle to live a Christlike life. If there are some nominal Christians who don’t give it a thought, that’s as may be. I think it would be wiser to assume that most of us seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in living from moment to moment.


    Dear John,
    You are so right, I am only a Lay Minister, and thus not as involved with the daily care for the people as you are, however I do visit people in the hospital or nursing home and during this summer I have preached almost every Sunday, somewhere. And it is amazing how time it all takes. People just don’t realize this. In between I also had a funeral on a Tuesday, so from Sunday morning till late Tuesday I was busy, busy, busy.
    I have somewhat of a feeling what you are talking about
    Blessings.


    Hello John: Thank you for being a Minister of the Gospel. Too often we take those in your profession for granted. I for one appreciate what you do and know full well there is much being done leading to Sunday Worship. I would say you have the most responsible job in the whole universe. Just look who gets called on when someone is drawing their last breath. It is not the teacher, butcher, baker or candlestick maker, but the pastor who passes on consoling words for those who hope to enter eternity.
    I recall one devoted pastor leaving his family one Easter Sunday to be with me as my husband was dying, with no hesitation he was there by my side. God Bless All Of You.
    (B.C.)


    You are so right on about working 24/7. Our Pastor is burning out, and he won’t listen to the advice to slow down. He is suppose to be 1/2 time for our congregation and 1/2 for another Presbyterian church in a different town. BUT as you can guess he is a full time pastor for both communities and the surrounding towns. He won’t listen to advice to slow down and say NO more often.
    Pastor Rob Parkman of the Alliance Church in Sask. wrote a book that all ministers and pastors should read. “REFUEL Strengthen Your Soul Energize Your Mission”.
    One wonderful minister refused to listen to advice to slow down. His family always came last – and then he died soon after retirement. He and they missed so much.
    Take care of yourself, and thank you for writing the devotion for PCC Daily.


    Dear John;
    Thank you for your devotional. It calls to mind my own experiences as an assistant scoutmaster. I remember my sons’ Scoutmaster telling me that being an assistant scoutmaster was no big deal: “It is only one hour a week and one weekend a month, and you don’t even have to go camping that much if you don’t want to.” Once I got into the role, it became a second job. I use to call it my “real job”, the other, “official” job was simply a means of paying for Scouting. I was blessed with a very understanding boss who was always willing to give the time off for Scouts, even though he couldn’t understand why anyone would want to go camping when there was a perfectly good Holiday Inn just down the road. It was probably the best job I have had, next to being a father, and in many ways it was an extension of fatherhood. Instead of one son, had 30-40 part time sons, all whom became very important to me.
    We were very fortunate in that the Church that sponsored our troop, as well as others believed that Scouting was an important extension of their youth ministry, which it was. For many boys and some of the adults it was their first or first sustained exposure to God and regular worship.
    Despite all the hours and weekends, it never felt like a burden. In many ways, it was the classic proof that doing Christ’s comment on doing his work: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”.
    Grace and Peace be with you.


    Well stated, John.
    I was a teacher and it sort of hurt to be continually reminded of two months holidays and all the other days off in between and the hours 9 to 3! I often wished folk would follow in my footsteps for a day.
    To make you be able to accept the ignorance of those who hurt you consider that they just don’t or care to understand.


    Amen to your prayer, John. Don’t ever imagine that you and other pastors, ministers, priests are not valued and appreciated for all the time you spend either in prayer or in preparing sermons, lessons, studies, special events, and above all, for who you are in Christ. How would those who serve alongside you ever manage if it weren’t for your amazing faithful leadership and example. Thank you, more than you can know, more than we can express. May God abundantly bless you in all you do, as you have blessed SO MANY OTHERS!


    Dear Pastor John,
    I do agree totally that it is “No Joke” at all in my opinion. A Pastor’s job is never done, speaking from my very own experiences.
    Thank you very much for this reminder, to all of us!
    How much we take for granted!
    May the dear Lord continue to bless you, and to sustain you.
    Let us all give thanks for our Pastors. “I do”!


    Dear Pastor Stuart,
    Our priest, like you, “works just one day a week.”
    … except for the time he spends visiting the sick and ‘shut-in’ in homes, hospitals, care facilities.
    … except for the time he counsels couples who wish to be married; those who contemplate separation or divorce; those who wish to join the church; those heading to college and those desperate for a job.
    … except for the time he and the Rabbi spend time to arrange an ‘ecumenical’ service at either our church or the synagogue.
    … except for the time he dedicates to caring for his family.
    … except for the times he prepares family meals while his wife puts in hours of extra time at the school.
    … except for the many times he is asked by one of our town’s funeral homes to ‘conduct a service’ for a non-church goer whose family has asked for a Christian burial; and on …, and on …, and on ….
    Though he’s still ‘a kid’ we think he’s a marvel.
    Having said all this and believing your days cannot be any less busy, I marvel that you find the time to write such thought-provoking “Devotionals.” For all that you do for me and for others, “Thank you.”
    I also Thank our Heavenly Father for the ‘unknown soul’ who first sent PresbyCan Daily Devotional to this Anglican/Episcopalian. Daily I am blessed.
    May Our Father in Heaven bless you always.

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