You’ve heard the song lyric, “Easy like Sunday morning”? For more than half my life, there was nothing easy or peasy about Sunday mornings. And I loved that.
Today is Sunday. When I woke up this morning, like I have on recent Sundays, I felt a weird mix of freedom and uneasiness. For almost four decades my alarm clock was set for a 5:00am, Sunday wake-up call. At some point in my life, I didn’t need the alarm. On Sundays I’d awaken to see the red glow of the display showing 4:48am or something before 5:00am.
Sunday was here!
A strange mix of anticipation and angst, accompanied my typical Sunday awakenings. Was I ready? Had I prepared and prayed enough? Was I emotionally, spiritually and physically primed for what the day would bring? Could I introduce someone to Jesus as Saviour today?
For as long as I remember, a coffee (or 3) was all I had for Sunday breakfast. Going without food was my way of preparing my body for surrender to God’s strength in me and through me. Fasting was my Sunday ritual.
Sundays are unique for pastors. Even during COVID, Sundays stand out from the other six days. The seventh day was God’s day of rest but it’s a pastor’s busiest day of work. My Sundays at North Pointe would start onsite at 7:45am and back home at 3:00pm or later. Over that span of time we would host three services in two sites, preach, pray, greet, encourage, laugh, listen, and start the follow-up of guests or urgent needs. Many times we would return a few hours later for prayer or worship. Or, just stay through. As much as people knew I enjoyed NFL football, I rarely saw a Sunday game.
What made Sundays feel like the other days of the week was a deep sense of gratitude to God that I got to be a pastor. Every day I drove onsite, even during hard times, I’d say a simple prayer of, “Thank you, Lord, for letting me be here.” I knew there would be a day when the role would end. The responsibility would be over. Maybe that’s what helped me love what I did for as long as I did it.
But that was then. Today when I woke up, the clock display read 6:41am. The alarm wasn’t even set. “Oh, yeah. It’s Sunday but I don’t have people to pastor.” Freedom? Yes. And, uneasy. Uneasy because I feel like I should be preaching or praying or loving a congregation or fixing a problem or at least being onsite somewhere to open doors for people.
It’s been four and a half months since I left my role as interim pastor at Bethel Church in Barrhead and seventeen months since Jocelyn and I transitioned from being pastors at North Pointe. And yet it was less than forty-eight hours ago that someone called me “Pastor Bob” and just ten minutes ago that I received an email from a grieving widow who addressed me as “Pastor Bob.”
All my ministry life I’ve been told that my identity is not my role. I am “Bob” – not “Pastor Bob.” OK, so maybe I’m messed up, but it was hard for me to separate “Pastor “from “Bob”. So I ask myself, “Why do I like being called ‘Pastor Bob’ even though I am not functioning as a pastor?”
I don’t know.
Does that make me immature or put me in the middle of an identity crisis? Am I emotionally broken and I don’t know it? Have I not moved on?
I do know it’s not because of prestige or recognition. It’s not because I don’t have a new role as a “coach.” I love coaching! Even though I’m a coach, people who knew me in my role, still call me “pastor.”
Maybe it’s because no longer being a pastor is not like flipping a switch. I’m not sure what you know about pastors, but here’s a secret – pastors love people. Not a day has gone by, in the last 545 days since we left North Pointe, that I do not think about the congregation. The nine months I was the interim pastor at Bethel was a long enough gestation period to birth some lasting relationships. Our seven-and-a-half years at Lakeshore in Dorval forged lifetime friendships. And even though our first pastoral experience in Essex, Ontario is a distant memory, there are relationships that endure.
I don’t know how leaders feel about exiting from other roles or professions. Maybe they feel free when the responsibility ends, the nameplate is removed from the office door and they turn their keys in. Keys are a whole other conversation.
My keys would open every door in each facility when I was a pastor. Until we started using key fobs, those keys weighed heavy in my pocket. I was welcome to be a part of any group, most any time. My energy was poured into helping others succeed, supporting their calling and championing the ideas of volunteers and staff.
When am I going to “get over” being a pastor? I have no idea. Maybe, never.
Perhaps that’s a good thing.
I’d love to hear from former pastors and from people who had a pastor move on. Please leave a comment at the bottom of this page. Thank you.
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After experiencing a heart attack last year I spent senenteen months out of ‘the pastorate’. I missed leading a congregation but fulfilled the call by pastoring pastors.
A friend once told me that just as a guitarist is still a guitarist without a guitar in his hands, a pastor is still a pastor without a church in his.
I miss you Pastor Bob ❤️
Does a Father stop being a Father? Does a Mother stop being a Mother? Do they still like to be called Mom and Dad long after the kids move out? There is nothing but warmth, respect, and adoration for who you were as a Pastor externally, and who you still are as a Pastor internally; especially from those of us who have been under your pasturing spirit. Your identity is “your heart and care for others”; you manifested that heart in the vocation of Pastor, A vocation where you shone. You will continue to shine by just “being you”!!! You are loved, valued, and appreciated.
Thanks you, friend. So glad you are doing well and helping other pastors live well.
Hearts back to you. One day when I can drive again, I’ll see you and John at Education Station.
You always lean in with kindness and thoughtfulness. This is a journey that Pastor Jocelyn and I are on together. One day, she’ll write her story on REVwords.
I look forward to Jocelyn’s story. But Pastor Bob you are still a Pastor to me, what you have taught us here at Bethel are golden nuggets. Reading this article this morning explains you a little better to me, I (the Ukrainian in me anyway) worried about you not eating, you are an amazing leader, pastor, coach and friend, I’m so glad you popped into our lives.
Praying for you and Jocelyn We Love You both.
Pastor Bob, our family thanks you and Jocelyn for the impact you’ve had on our lives. My initial meeting with you changed my life forever. We all miss you. Please don’t ever stop being a Pastor … the world needs more PB’s
You will always be Pastor Bob. God
called you as a young man to be a
Pastor to his sheep. You and Jocelyn
are so loved by all of us at NPC. Many
look forward every day to follow you
on Face Book . God is just giving you
a REST ! Enjoy it ! I’ll always call you
Best Pastor ever Enjoy the
freedom reaching out to others. Enjoy
your Grand children and the freedom.
“Pastor” Bob…you underestimate your impact on the community whose hearts and spiritual lives you have touched and continue to touch. To say that you are no longer a functioning pastor may be factual in that you no longer are being “employed” by a bricks and mortar congregation but your congregation is made up of people that have had the grace to be touched by your loving kindness and continue to do so.
An example of this is the Leap of Faith…I am positive that when you were no longer able to jump yourself there was more than just one person willing to step in for you. I know, because I considered offering my services although I would have pitied the individual who would have had to jump tandem with me. This wasn’t because you were just Bob, it’s because in our hearts and our minds you are “Pastor” Bob. The individual who has shepherded us through weddings, funerals, Christmases, Easters, “Come as You are” good times and stressful times, sharing your Love for God with us everyday and any day we may have needed you. To think that you still wouldn’t do that in a moment of need is unfathomable.
Your life as a “functioning” pastor has impacted our lives in so, so many ways and out of love and respect I hope that I can always refer to you as Pastor Bob.
Hi Ernie. Thank you so much for connecting. And I didn’t know you were even thinking of being available to “leap.” That would have been cool. And no, the pro you would be paired with would have been fine and entertained by your sense of humour. Lot;s of good memories of connections with all the Pudwills.
Thank you, Tara. You are like family after volunteering together and traveling to Israel together. And ENJOYING your fine cuisine.
I still remember your first email on a Saturday night. So glad we connected and created new ministry opportunities at NP.
And love back to you and Tim and Jennifer. I’m so pleased I was able to be a small part of the ministry of Bethel and even more enriched because of working with you and your family and enjoying your hospitality. #bestcook
Oh Pastor Bob, in my mind you will always be a Pastor, I am so grateful to have had you as my pastor for the years we shared at Central and North Pointe. Your love and passion for the Lord and the people to whom you ministered to both in the church and in the Community have been both inspiring and deeply appreciated. You and Jocelyn are dearly loved.
Peter also appreciates you and Jocelyn.
Hi Evie and Peter. It is ALWAYS good to hear from you. One of my best memories was when I shared the story at Central about the lead singer from KORN and you told me you shared that story with your grandson. Or the day when you and Peter got engaged at the office. Or the day you got married at NP. Or… there are hundreds of them.
Hi Pastor Bob. Rene and I appreciate we had the opportunity of meeting you and Jocelyn. We are thankful to the Lord for bringing us to NPCC in 2013 when we moved from our former church on the south side. We were always blessed and encouraged by your preaching. We look forward to hearing your messages from the pulpit again. Blessings always!
I wonder if true pastoring is a calling and not so much an identity or role, or having keys or being included in meetings, etc. And I wonder if when you are called “pastor”, you are reminded of your calling, which brings you purpose and meaning. Just thoughts.
It was so good traveling to Israel with you. Bittersweet memories. Shalom.
Calling sounds good. I never aspired to be a pastor. The role found me.
Bless you for your words of wisdom from your vast experience that I’ve been able to peak at once in awhile since you came to CPT many years ago. For 28 years at Hope Mission I’ve been called senior Chaplain then Chaplain then Pastor when I planted Hope Mission Community Church for 9 years now Chaplain again. To confuse matters this week my wife Catherine and I accepted the permanent position of Lead Pastors at New Hope Christian Assembly. I’m still working part time in a new role as chaplain at Hope Mission. A young lady new believer started working at Hope Mission recently and asked me what she should call me? I thought about for a moment and of the names I get called occasionally from some of the intoxicants on the street or at Chapel. So I said you can call me Alan which she does to this day. I’m still most comfortable with that title because whatever change I have in ministry I’m called Alan by the two that mean the most to me. THE LORD and CATHERINE.
I love your sense of humour regarding the names you occasionally “get called”. All the nest to and you and Catherine.
Pastor Bob…PB…PB & J…
No matter the version of your name I use, Pastor is always there. I fully believe your humble statement that it has nothing to do with a title or prestige. I never once saw anything in you but authenticity and humility during the ten plus years I attended North Pointe under your leadership.
To your reflection of why you prefer it when we all call you Pastor, I suspect one reason is simply because there is a responsibility to that title and I see you as one of the most dedicated and responsible leaders I have witnessed. This is not hollow flattery but authentic admiration. I know you still see us all as your flock and that defines your heart.
When you came to me with concerns regarding a situation that I was directly involved in, you did so with grace and a genuine offer to help. The same can be said for Jocelyn in all I shared with her in Women’s ministry.
True leadership comes from a strong character, a humble spirit and an authentic soul. To me, those characteristics describe only a few people in leadership that have influenced my life. A select few of those people have been, are or always will be pastors pivotal in my growth as a person and as a Christian.
While I truly value every pastor in my life, only a handful hold the forever role of pastor in my heart. You and Joc hold two of those very prominent positions. Through your calling, you have been exactly where you were needed and I don’t believe that has ended – I pray you are favoured with the best season of your calling this coming year! ♥️
You are so right about Jocelyn. “True leadership comes from a strong character, a humble spirit and an authentic soul.” I wrapped your words around me like a warm blanket. You are consistent in your encouragement. We could always count on you to be positive. Calay you made ministry possible because you leaned in to do whatever was necessary. You showed up. Showing up is half the battle. Thank you.