Editor’s Note: Good news! This post takes us away from the seemingly never-ending presidential election, the lousy winter weather in much of the US and the terrible, still increasing pandemic numbers, even as the first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are being distributed. Still, there not much to be happy about in this post except knowing that the writer has been publicly out of the clergy for several years now and no longer has to deal with these typical pastor problems, even during his vacation. This was originally posted in a secret blog, seven long years ago. /Linda LaScola, Editor
I’m feeling screwed and not in a good way, and besides I did it to myself.
I took a week of vacation. We’d finished some big summer projects at church, and it was supposed to be quiet, and I could spend some peaceful time at home. But did things slow down?
First, there were the medical emergencies–three different people in three different directions. No problem. Just make a few phone calls and I’d be done.
Well, one of them is a beloved 97 year old and she rated more than a phone call, so I went out to see her. And when they moved her to the bigger hospital out of town, I drove out to see her again. But that was okay because I like her. Everyone does.
And then there was the death. Every minister knows if they go on vacation, somebody dies. Pretty lethal when you look at it a certain way. And the woman that died had no family, only her little community of loyal friends, most of whom came to my church. Since I was in town anyway, I’d just take care of that service, too.
And we ordered new video equipment that needed to be installed that particular week and I needed to be around to help. That was fine. It was different from working in the office. No problem. It would still feel like a vacation, even while I reassured the naysayers: the ones who thought we spent several thousand dollars on something that wouldn’t work, the ones who thought it would make our sanctuary look ugly, and the ones who were afraid we were going to turn into one of those churches that went over the deep end with drums, guitars, snakes, and tongue speaking.
And then there was the youth trip, where the van broke down several hours away. They tried to handle it themselves and not tell me, but they weren’t getting anywhere so finally they called me. It’s good to be connected–I was able to phone a couple of buddies and get them transportation back home. But to switch vehicles–no one was available, so I drove that vehicle back to my buddy’s town–did I mention it was several hours away? But I had the time because I was on vacation.
And the week was over. I joked that it was good to come back to work so I could get some rest.
But the truth is that I was so tired, all I could do was hang on until my next day off got here, which is today. I was so tired that everything made me furious or despairing. I had a major blow up not just with my wife, but my two teenage boys–I am so popular at my house.
One minister told that my mistake was that I really have to get out of town, far enough away that I can’t get back for anything and someone else would have to take care of things–600 miles usually did the trick. Another friend said I shouldn’t call that vacation and I should reschedule another week. Which I would do but I’m looking at the calendar and it’s going to be a while.
So like I said, I’m feeling screwed and not in a good way.
**Editor’s Question: Can you think of a time when you felt screwed, not in a good way, relating to religion? If so, please tell us about it.
Bio: David Mercer, aka “Stan Bennett,” was the “Stan” who was featured in the CNN documentary, Atheists: Inside the World of Non-believers and the Canadian documentary, Losing Our Religion. David was a pastor for thirty-five years in Texas and Oklahoma until he quit and moved to Orlando, Florida, where he met and married his wife, Sylvia. David is now fully out of the closet as an agnostic. He is a life coach, a teacher, and a storyteller. He is the author of the blog Deep Calls. You can also find him on his Author Page on Facebook.
>>>Photo Credits: By Copyleft – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15700778