Just as we had finished imposing ashes on the foreheads of worshipers, my friend and fellow pastor David Bennett turned to me and said, “Alan, remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” And with those words, David marked me with the sign of the cross with ashes. And that is when it hit me: It’s Lent. Forty plus days of Lenten lunches, Wednesday Bible studies, prayer services, extra time needed to plan extra sermons, meetings, and everything that comes with an already very full plate of ministry. Another year. Another Lent. Will I survive?
On Ash Wednesday, pastors get their hands dirty to impart ashes on the foreheads of parishioners with the words, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Millions of Christians attending services will hear those familiar words and then go home without realizing what is about to take place for their clergy. Ash Wednesday not only marks the beginning of Lent, but also the beginning of a trying time for pastors.
During Lent the church calendar fills up and the pastor’s daily agenda quickly gets full. Pastors and ministry leaders try hard to plan and lead meaningful spiritual encounters. Lent is a time of reflection and examination of our faith. People tend to start visiting their pastors with challenges, problems, concerns, and other needs. Somehow it seems people become more needy during Lent. I mean that in the best possible way. Pastors are called to serve and help people. We are glad to fulfill our calling. However, during Lent, pastors often find that demand for their service increases. People go into the hospital, someone dies, another has a crisis, and a transient is in the pastor’s looking for money but you are late for a meeting. Most pastors know the increased flow of need is coming, but that does not mean your pastor is ready for it. [Read more…]