"Where the Pavement Ends" is fine and certainly worth reading.
I recommend his last piece at being a Pastor- Preacher type. All of us that bear the mantle--and sometimes like other jobs-- know it gets a mite heavy. What a lot of people don't realize is that though what we do is a calling (and I hope theirs is too) ours also is a job with accompanying joys and headaches--sometimes the former and often the latter.
I've been part of a great organization called Ministry to Ministers which enables clergy in trouble to get help and hope. (In our retreats we have heard about every story you can think of. Sometimes churches do terrible things to the ministers that work for them. And sometimes troubled minister do terrible things to congregations. If you know some Minister that is hurting--have him contact our organization. Over 1,000 have been part of our retreats. Many of these have found life after termination or serious personal problems.
But looking back over my shoulder I have (mostly) enjoyed the churches and the people that came trailing in week after week (well, not every week)--when they didn't have to come at all. And I have a heartfull of stories of people I have met and loved who have been brave soldiers despite the hard, hard things that life has thrown at them. I still believe in church after all these years. Oh, I know we really do have the treasure in earthen vessels and our track record with social justice and other issues does leave a lot to be desired. But the love and sensitivity I have experienced and witnessed from all those people who toted in their casseroles and prayed for their friends and cried at their funerals take my breath away. Atheists have no unearthly idea how much love flows out in the lives of many people because of church.
They don't pay me to do this anymore. But on Sundays when I have to miss--I still feel like something is missing in my week. I heard old, wonderful, distinguished George Buttrick then in his 80's--say one evening, "Despite it all--I am proud to be member of this club called clergy." I now know what the meant. I thank
( but do not blame) Marion Aldridge for this rant. And when you see your preacher just remember he or she is just like you. We're all in the same boat. Fellow-strugglers trying to find the way. Let's just give each other a break. God knows we all need one.
The distinguished (ho ho) looking group at the top are some of my buddies. Without colleagues--I don't know what we would have done.