I recently spent a day visiting people in the hospital, several nursing homes, and a center for the memory impaired. That is all a part of the life of a pastor of a local church.
Later that evening I sat down with my wife and told her about my day. I told her about all the folks that I spent time with and said, "You know, only one of those people that I visited today will even remember that I was there."
Sometimes ministry can be a sad affair. Ministers deal with life and death and that great gulf in-between.
But you know, most of us do it gladly. We care for the people in our churches and we do it because we love God and we love people. And we are glad to take care of the church.
Psalm 100:2 says, "Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing."
I try to serve the Lord with gladness. In fact I try to do all that I do with gladness.
When I was visiting with those church folks the other day, it was a joy for me to share a part of my day with them. I had to remind most of them who I was, even though I had known them for a good while and I had visited them time and again. But their memory of so many things has gone.
I sat by one gentleman's bedside and we laughed together, and talked about all the cattle that he had taken care of that day. That's what he had been doing in his mind anyway. And we laughed about those old cows.
He called me Bob. He recognized my face when I came into his room, and he laughed about how short I had cut my hair. But I was someone from days long ago in his mind.
I walked up and down the halls with another gentleman as he rolled his wheelchair around the circuit that he made throughout the day. We shared our time together. He rolled along. I walked along. I spent time with him because I am his pastor, but he didn't know that anymore. But, I know that I am. And I want to be able to minister to him just by being there.
Years ago, when I was a student in Bible College, I worked in a nursing home. I would spend time after my shift visiting with certain patients there in the home whom I knew were church people.
One lady that I would visit had lost her eyesight. She loved to quote scriptures that she had memorized before she went blind, and she would "preach" to this preacher-in-training. We would enjoy just being there together.
Another woman that I visited with back then wouldn't talk with anyone anymore. She just lay in her bed and stared off into space. But, when I would sing a hymn, she would join in with me and sing along at the top of her lungs. We made beautiful music together. It was beautiful to my ears anyway.
When I would leave her room she would return to her silence and her inner world.
The psalmist said, "Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing."
I enjoy singing. I may not have the best of singing voices, but sometimes I think I sound okay. When I come before the presence of the Lord, I like to sing, and I think the Lord enjoys hearing me sing.
I think my friend in the nursing home all those years ago enjoyed hearing me sing. And she joined in with me.
I like being a pastor. I have the privilege of serving two congregations of people. Good folks, every one of them. I serve the Lord and them gladly.
Sometimes we even sing together in the presence of the Lord. Gladly!
-- Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at email@example.com.