gymI got a text while at the gym today. While I’m certainly not the first person to get a text while sweating profusely, it jolted me out of my sabbath focus on mind, body, and spirit.

The text was about a church matter: not earth shattering, not inappropriate, not emotionally-laden. It was simply a plain Jane text that required a response. Welcome to ministry in the twenty-first century. The connectedness that allows me to pastor a church in an isolated frontier community while my wife serves as hospital chaplain ninety miles away, also makes it hard to escape.

One of the things I like about pastoral ministry, particularly in a small community, is the holistic lifestyle. Some of my most critical ministry encounters happen at our tiny grocery store or at high school sporting events. My work and daily living are integral to one another. It is challenging from moment to moment sometimes to know whether I’m on-the-job or not.

This is also one of the things I intensely dislike about pastoral ministry, particular part-time pastoral ministry. It is difficult to get away emotionally. At times, I can feel like I’m being stalked by my call. I find it difficult to focus on the projects and work for which my my off-time is designed.

Most of the time, however, I like that being a pastor is about being, about leading a holistic lifestyle. My faith, the essence of ministry, is about presence. I can no more compartmentalize my spirituality to certain days of the week than I can eat every other day.

If the price is an occasional text at the gym, I can live with that.

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