The Preacher’s Work Week – Part 3

Luke 14:23

Visitation

On Monday, the pastor doesn’t have the energy to do much more than recover from Sunday.  For many a layman, that doesn’t make sense.  Their limited understanding thinks the pastor works only one hour a week, and most of them, even that’s too long. There have actually been research studies on the effects of stress for varied professions. One study found pastors experience the same amount of stress in one Sunday service as any other person who works a full eight-hour day. So, the preacher may get the mail, return a few calls, or just take care of mundane chores. It’s not a day to start anything.

On Tuesday night, the pastor goes on visitation.  This is the time set aside for the pastor to get into people’s homes – the lost people, the shut-ins, the inactive church member.  The pastor and perhaps one or two of the deacons would arrive at the church, distribute contact lists, say a prayer, and head off into the highways and the hedges to compel them to come in.  In smaller churches, the pastor is often the only one to go.  I heard of one frustrated preacher who decided to buy a boat and name it “Visitation.”  That way he could just go the lake on Tuesdays and tell people he was on Visitation.

My dad would occasionally take me along with him.  I loved the opportunity to spend a little time with my dad, but I wasn’t crazy about being around other people.  Years later, I discovered through the Meyers-Briggs Personality Inventory I was an introvert.  Being around people I didn’t know very well drained me. Forging new relationships was often a challenge, much less relationships with grown-ups.  My father was an extrovert.  He thrived on meeting new people and being with his flock.  Sometimes visitation for him took odd forms. A few years ago, an older fellow informed me he thought my dad was the best pastor he ever had. When I inquired why, he stated, “He went to farm implement sales with me.”  My dad went wherever the people were, not just to their homes. He knew a little about everything, so he would often end up helping repair a plow or working a squeeze-chute at branding time. More often than not, he came home from visitation with dirty pants. Daddy loved visitation.

(Warning: Adult Content Ahead)

An Un-welcome Visitation

One visitation night stands out in my mind above the rest.  Rather, it haunts my mind.  I went with my dad to an elderly lady’s home on a Tuesday night.  She was a stalwart of the little church and he wanted to check on her because she had not been well.  When we got there, her grown children happened to be at home.  There was her 20-something year old daughter, another female friend, and two male friends. They were in a back room talking and laughing while my dad was visiting.  At one point they hollered at me to come meet them. I looked at my dad, and he nodded that it was alright.  I timidly walked in and they started talking to me.  One of the men quietly shut the door, while another of the men and one of the women held me on the bed.  The man and woman proceeded to unzip my pants and take them down.  I didn’t know what to do. I tried to get loose, but these were grown people, and I was nine years old. To this day, I don’t know why I didn’t yell out.  I struggled to get free, but I didn’t yell. The woman began to fondle me, while the other three laughed and pointed.  It was all a big joke. While my father prayed with Mrs. Brown in the kitchen, four adults molested me in the bedroom. After a couple of minutes, they put my pants back up and let me go. I was confused, angry, hurt, and dazed. When they released me, I ran outside and looked for a place to get away.  The only thing I could think of was to climb a tree, which I did. I climbed as high into that sycamore tree as I could go.  Then, I just sat there in the branches until my father came out.  I never told him why I was in the tree. In fact, I never told anyone until I was well past 40 years old.

I know many of you are shocked that I would include such a graphic story in an otherwise light-hearted blog.  I do it for two reasons. First, life is not always light-hearted and fun. Sometimes it is messy, ugly, and confusing, even in a pastor’s home.  Second, I have discovered I am not alone.  There are many others who have experienced such transgressions in church-related settings.  Little boys and little girls are scarred for life by others.  I was emotionally fractured by that event.  I do not feel like a “victim” per se.  I do realize, however, the profound impact this had on my life.  For years after, I experienced sexual confusion and poor choices.  Through some solid biblical counseling and conversations with other friends, who I discovered had experienced similar events, I have found a sense of resolution. This is not mine to avenge.  That is a right God reserves for himself (Romans 12:19)  Forgiveness does not ignore a wrong. Forgiveness looks the wrong straight in the face and says, “What you did was wrong! However, I give up the right to punish you.” Also, forgiveness does not mean automatic trust. Forgiveness is free, but trust is earned.

I offer no simple solutions for any reader who may have experienced a similar event.  Only, know you are not alone, and you can survive. If you have been through such an ordeal, please talk to someone. Seek counseling. There are many fine trustworthy biblical counselors available. Don’t hide behind secret shame anymore.

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Published in: on September 26, 2017 at 2:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

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