Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pleasure boating or fishing?

Pr. Norbert Oesch over at PLI has written a blog challenging Pastors to spend more time fishing and less time pleasure boating (apparently anything that is not "fishing").  Some disclosure is in order.  Pr. Oesch's father baptized me and Pr. Oesch himself lived part of his life in the parsonage of my home congregation on the prairie of Nebraska.  I have spoken with him occasionally over the years -- mostly about his dad and growing up in Nebraska.  You can read his own words here.

I understand what Pr. Oesch is trying to say.  There are some Pastors out there who hide away and are not available to do the Lord's work because they are preoccupied with other things (computers, surfing the net, reading blogs, and blogging may be among them).  I also know that there are other boats besides pleasure boats and fishing boats.  In order to fulfill the calling of the Office of Pastor, it may involve spending time on all kinds of boats.  What I object to most of all is the idea that if you are not fishing, you are speeding by on a pleasure boat.  My parents had a pleasure boat and I spent many days as a youth on the water (not enough as I recall).  Pleasure boating occurred only after the work was done.  My family says I stick by this rule a little too much.

Anyway... my point is that it is a straw man to say that it is only a choice between pleasure boating and fishing.  Let me speak personally.  I have 4-5 services each week and about that many sermons to preach (more if there are funerals or weddings).  I see about 6 families a week in the context of counseling, addressing the absent, and emergency pastoral care.  I communicate with about a dozen or more each day (some by email, some phone, and some visits).  I meet with new families and prepare people for membership.  I teach catechism and Bible studies.  If I am in Wal-Mart and see an absent member, I seek them out.  I spend some time each week administering things that cannot be delegated or that arise as urgent matters that cannot be put off.  I spend time in the preschool and in chapel with the children.  I meet with my staff once a week for a couple of hours of devotion and conversation over lunch.  I have many other conversations and meetings with staff and parish boards in addition. I spend time in hospital rooms and at funeral homes.  I would not consider any of these "fishing" but more working the freighters, fire boats, tugboats, ferries, hospital ships, submarines, battleships, aircraft carriers, and, yes, a destroyer or two.  All Pastors do.  I will gladly admit that I do not spend a goodly part of my day fishing.  But fishing was not among the specified duties in my call and the rest of these boats were exactly what I was called here to do.  Many, perhaps most Pastors will find themselves in a similar situation. 

I took a week off to be with my family in Nebraska when my mom faced health issues (keep her in your prayers) and, sadly, felt guilty for being away from the Church just as much as feeling guilty for not spending more time with my family when I am doing the work of the kingdom.  I know that I work many more hours than I should and yet I generally feel I should be doing more.  I do not have many hobbies.  I work with wood, fix the broken things around the house, work in the yard and garden, cook every now and then.  I spend from 6 am to 6:30 or 7 am each day blogging, reading blogs, and checking out what is happening in the Church (through internet sources).  Some of this I do for mental health (especially when I rant and rave).  Some of it I do because I value the counsel and perspective of many of my "fishing" brothers. 

So, Pr. Oesch, I challenge you.  Look for something between pleasure boating and fishing and you will find good Pastors there.  It may not always be fishing but it is what the Lord has called us to do.  We preach, teach, preside, visit, counsel from God's Word, pray, go after the wandering, keep in touch, hear confession, and a whole lot of things that may be fishing but they are surely not pleasure boating either.  From one sea shepherd to another, it is time for a new illustration...



4 comments:

Janis Williams said...

Fishing boats - the kind that fish with nets (Biblical) not line and bait (seeker sensitive) are manned by a CREW.

Not being a lifelong Lutheran, I was taught the hook, line, and stinker (not a typo) method. We had weekly visitation - ostensibly for evangelism purposes. Thank heaven literally, that as I understand it now, I evangelize by living out my vocation, and being ready to give an answer for the faith that is in me.

Fr. Peters, from one crew member, all of us need to pray daily for our captain.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Peters,

Could it be that Pastor Oesch is calling pastors to be the fishermen our Lord called them to be in their office of pastoral ministry, and not be distracted by non core matters (pleasure craft) that draw them away from their work as pastors?

Love reading your blog

Pr. Adrian Kramer

Anonymous said...

Pastor Peters,

Could it be that Pastor Oesch is calling pastors to be the fishermen our Lord called them to be in their office of pastoral ministry, and not be distracted by non core matters (pleasure craft) that draw them away from their work as pastors?

Love reading your blog

Pr. Adrian Kramer

Lina Juliette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.