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Honeymoons – Pastor & People

8December2011

The honeymoon.  A time when husband and wife take off, time away from the pressures and stress of the wedding, time to simply be; to enjoy one another; to discover what this new thing is, husband-wife, this two becoming one.  Even if you have not experienced a honeymoon, you know of what I write.  Did you know that pastors and congregations go through a honeymoon phase?

My co-authors know this; they have all been through it.  The honeymoon on which pastor and people embark is not a trip to Cancun or Paris or Disneyworld.  The honeymoon for pastor and people is found in those first few days, weeks, months (sometimes, so I am told, even years) when everything seems… blissful.  Both pastor and people delight in the new things they discover about one another.  Both pastor and people rejoice in the little things that their new pastor or new congregation does that was never, ever done with the old pastor or congregation.  Just like with newlyweds, it is a time of fluffy white bunnies, cotton candy, adorable puppies, and all things precious.

Honeymoon Feelings

But, as with wife and husband newlyweds, the honeymoon will come to an end.  There is the discovery that he refuses to vacuum and that she is incapable of replacing a pop in the refrigerator.  You find that she grabs the ingredients for baking as she needs them and he lines up all of the ingredients and measuring implements before beginning to cook supper.  In other words, reality sets in.  It isn’t cute, it isn’t always joy-filled, it isn’t fun.  But it is real.  It is in those moments that relationship begin to deepen.  Not in the joys and cuteness and fluffy bunnies of the honeymoon moments, but in the nitty, gritty moments.

Just as husbands and wives discover, learn, and grow from those moments, so do pastor and people.  The first time you are seriously hurt by your pastor (trust me; there is a 99.9% chance that it was unintentional; but that in no way diminishes your pain)… the first time you discover that what you were told by the call committee and the council is the exact opposite of reality… the first time you realize that, though you love and care for one another, this situation/event/circumstance is just not something we will ever agree upon.  It is in those moments that real relationship building can begin between pastor and people, because it is in those moments that we have the opportunity to share the love and forgiveness that the Father gave to us in the Son through the Holy Spirit.  It is in those moments when we can say to one another, “I understand you.  I do not agree with your perspective, but I understand, and we will work on this together” that we experience holy moments as pastor and people.

Yes, this post was precipitated by an event in the congregation where I serve.  We are still honeymooning, but we have had a moment or two of eye-rolling with one another.  The blessing and joy is that we have, thus far, been able to have holy moments, when we have talked to one another, learned from one another, and have made the commitment to one another as pastor and people.  I pray that you, too, will be able to have and hold those holy moments… because it isn’t always fluffy bunnies and adorable kittens.

KMF@CCD

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