Today (July 26, 2013) is thirteen months from the day I arrived as Pastor of Immaculate Conception. I have learned a lot and I hope I have helped our parishioners come closer to God. Most directly, this comes from homilies, the way I preside at Mass, hearing confessions, and ministering with the people who are dying and with the families at funerals. These ministries as essential to who I am called to be as a priest.
As an extension of my teaching role as a priest I maintain this blog and website. I also have done a few presentations in the parish this year (recorded on video for this website) about various aspects of our Catholic faith. These are done as evangelization activities to help people deepen their faith but it also helps me deepen my own faith as I do the research and reflection to prepare for the presentations (the same is true for homily preparation).
Today, I would like to reflect on what it means to be a pastor. I titled this blog “Administrating vs. Pastoring”. As a pastor, I am the administrator of the parish and there is a lot that goes on here. If you were to look at my desk, this would be immediately obvious because my desk is covered with piles of papers. Some might say, ‘big deal, my desk always looks that way.’ In the past, my desk was never entirely covered with papers. I am an organized person and a person who is driven to get things done so seldom would my desk be entirely covered. Now, it routinely is.
In my efforts to get things done, sometimes I get stuck in a rut of administering vs. pastoring. By administering, I mean simply doing what needs to be done to keep things going. When I focus on administering, I become exhausted and don’t feel like I am accomplishing what I am supposed.
Pastoring includes administering but it is not simply administering. Pastoring requires leadership. Leadership requires reflection. In administering, I can hop from one thing to the next, multi-task, and work on a lot of different things in a day. Pastoring requires reflection not just on what needs to be done but what it means for the mission of the parish. Administering can be as simple as giving a yes or no answer when one of the parish staff comes to me with a question but pastoring means reflecting on what it means in light of our mission as a church and the other ministries of the parish.
One example of something that might seem entirely like administration but I see as more is our needed building repairs. Some would see building repairs as simply keeping the building working. The phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind. Certainly, building items that are broken need to be fixed but we don’t have to wait for something to actually break to fix it. Since I have an engineering degree, it would easy for me to think of building needs solely in terms of physical need but I don’t. Our Building and Grounds Committee is working on a five-year plan to be proactive about our building needs. As we prioritize needed repairs, it isn’t just a question of what is the worst shape. We also need to ask what building needs we have that affects our ability to perform our ministries.
It is when I pastor “reflecting” on these issues that I feel that I am doing what God is calling me to do rather than just doing a job.
Do you feel like you are stuck in a rut or are you finding fulfillment in what you are doing?