Completion

One thing I rarely have experienced in my three decades of pastoral ministry is a sense of completion.  Unlike a contractor who sees a completed home or an artist who holds a completed piece, I have rarely felt like I had finished a long-term task.  I may have finished a pastoral visit or a Sunday sermon, but there were always more visits to make and sermons to write.  The job of pastor, by its nature, was never finished.

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Trinity Lutheran in Lindstrom, MN

So when I ended my thirteen month interim at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lindstrom last week, I was surprised that my dominant emotion has been a sense of satisfaction.  I had accomplished the specific job I was called to do.  I had been their temporary shepherd as they took time to grieve the departure of their previous senior pastor, to assess their present mission and leadership needs and to call a new senior pastor.  Now they are ready as a congregation to walk forward into God’s future.

12741879_10153577171059480_1232960852186957582_n-2Yes, there are other emotions.  I feel sadness at leaving some great relationships.  As a pastor I shared in the joy of baptisms and the sorrows of funerals.  Together we struggled how to faithfully steward a large bequest to the congregation.  I truly enjoyed working with Trinity’s leadership of council and committees as together we sought God’s path for Trinity.  I will miss many gracious people.

palmsundayhorizontal2014What my recent study and practice of mindfulness has taught me is that all things change.  As a pastor I intellectually knew this, but never fully embraced it.  All pastoral ministries come to an end.  As an intentional interim pastor I recognized this from the start.  I practiced “living one day at a time, enjoying each moment at time,” as the Serenity Prayer says.  Some days I did become anxious, trying to control the outcome.  But during my final weeks at Trinity, as they prepared for the arrival of their new pastor, I took time to be grateful for the opportunity to serve and to savor the satisfaction of my call’s completion.

At this time, I do not know where my next interim will be.  I am reminded of Psalm 121,

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.

For now, I rest during my personal interim.

When have you experienced a sense of completion?  How did you respond to it?

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4 thoughts on “Completion

  1. Dave Wolsky

    Early in my life, my grandmother taught me “Try to leave things in better condition than when you got there”. I have tried to do that my whole life.
    Pastor John, thanks to you lending us your time and experience at Trinity. We truly do appreciate it and you for sure did leave us in better shape than when you got here! We are ready to welcome our new Pastor.
    Thanks for being our rudder over the past year. We could easily have been adrift without you!
    Peace and blessings.
    Dave Wolsky

    Reply
  2. Virginia Pleban

    John, Your article makes me think of all the places I have volunteered at with my gardening skills. I am now learning to accept that I may not be able to do much more volunteer gardening. So now I am participating in being on some committees at the city of Lake Elm and Washington County. I hope to have surgery soon to help eliminate the pain I have been in for about the last 9 months. I know God will show me the way, whatever direction that might be.
    Thank you for you great insight.
    Virginia Pleban

    Reply

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