Monday, March 06, 2006

the Reverend Mister Mom

Parenting is perhaps the purest form of pastoring. I'm convinced that no other distinction in life demonstrates true discipleship better being a Dad. And although not uniquely analogous to fatherhood, the ideals of church leadership -- guidance, protection, love, care, self-sacrifice -- are seldom more beautifully expressed than in a healthy parenting relationship.

The first part of this week, I'm taking a bit of extra time to stay at home with my children while Marci enjoys a few days with old friends in old London. Two and a half days of making meals, giving baths, changing diapers, wiping runny noses, reading stories, keeping the house in order... It is the classic "Stay-at-Home-Mom" experience -- helping me to realize how much my wife does on a daily basis -- and it is a unique opportunity to minister to my family... In a sense, this stint as "Mister Mom" is temporarily taking time away from "pastoring" (in the sense of leading the ministry of Zolder50) -- yet I am amazed by how much the smallest interactions between me and my small pre-school children exemplify the heart of pastoring.

Pastoring and parenting both require not just quality time but vast quantities of time as well. Pastoring and parenting happen in the general ebb and flow of life -- in casual meals together, sunny afternoons in the park, the frustration of a long line on a short schedule -- more than in specially manufactured moments. Pastoring and parenting involve tears as well as laughter, enduring temper tantrums as well as enjoying infinite adoration. Both pastoring and parenting insist upon a regular flushing of one's own selfish desires and a continual renewal and refreshment of God's Spirit, on a daily (if not hourly) basis. And both pastoring and parenting involve a keen observation and reflection of the life of Jesus...

In Jesus' last recorded personal interaction with his friend and protegé Peter, the disciple was not commissioned to revolutionize the world... He was not charged with the task of multiplying a billion-person organization to infiltrate every corner of the globe... He was not appointed to preach to the masses, coordinate political movements, or act as the spokesman for a burgeoning system of faith... Rather, like a father blessing his son with the rites of passage to manhood, Jesus uses his last personal interaction with Peter to gently implore: "Feed my lambs... Take care of my sheep... Feed my sheep." "Love me." "Follow me." Serve as the caregiver for the children of God who will be looking for someone to feed them, protect them, gently guide them. This is the work of leading my Church.

And this is what I've done with my day today. Making poffertjes and peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches... Retrieving water from the kitchen sink... Wiping tears away following bumps and bruises... Refereeing countless squabbles... Answering a thousand "Why"s... Helping to teach and train the most basic tasks of life -- from eating with a spoon to wiping after using the toilet...

This is what I must do everyday.


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