That One Thing

Several years ago when Christy and I served in England I attended a workshop for ministers in training. The presenter said pastoral ministry can be very tricky. Every pastor, especially those with small or no support staff, is ultimately responsible for a myriad of tasks in the local church. Trying to do everything with the same level of energy or expertise will lead to burnout. Instead, we should focus on one thing we do well, and do it even better. Everything else will take care of itself. It reminded me of one of my favorite movies, City Slickers, where Billy Crystal's character asks Jack Palance's character, Curly, what the secret of life is. Curly responds just like this:

"Your finger?" Billy Crystal asks. Curly rides off. Later he finally breaks down and says the secret of life is to do the one thing you love best. Good advice, from cowboys or workshop leaders.

Every pastor has certain gifts-- particular areas he or she enjoys the most in ministry. Some are more administrators than caregivers; others are more managers than visionaries. My "one thing" is preaching-- that's why I studied preaching for my doctorate and not an area I don't consider a strength. I wanted to build on my one thing. Whatever "one thing" my colleagues have, none of them has ever said to me, "You know Frank, my 'one thing' is end of year reporting. I went to seminary and was ordained to fill out membership and compensation reports." Maybe I don't know enough pastors!

I am very grateful for the staff here at Grace-- they are all dedicated and fun to serve with. They too each have their own gifts, and save me from having to do many of the tasks of the local church. Marianna helps with hospital visits and community outreach; Jan helps with bulletins and newsletters; Pastor Leon helps with worship and Bible study; Janet runs the children and youth ministries; Jack keeps the facilities clean and put together; Lynda leads 8:30 worship and overall worship planning; David plays the piano; the Hartmans lead 11:00 worship; and Rhonda looks after the business operations. Rhonda has carried the heaviest burden on the end of year reporting, though there are some forms I must complete. Thanks to you all!

While I am bragging on the church staff, let me also brag a bit on Grace as a whole: our stewardship campaign, Fall Into Grace, was a huge success. With several pledges still outstanding, we have already exceeded our pledged income total for next year by more than $20,000! PLUS: 75% of pledges increased over this year! That is an amazing response, and a credit to the Stewardship Team who made it happen. I sent texts bragging on Grace to both our District Superintendent, Dr Marvin Guier, and our guest preacher on Commitment Sunday, Dr Larry George. All Grace is Amazing!

The best part of end of year reporting is that it points us to a new year in ministry together. Let's celebrate 2016 at the annual Charge Conference, which will be held at First UMC Sherman, November 20 at 3:00. We'll hear about some very exciting ministries from the Northwest District and throughout the North Texas Conference.

As we look to 2017, what is your "one thing"? And how can you use that to bless others through the ministries of Grace UMC?