Saturday, October 12, 2013

What Pastors do on Saturday Nights

I have joked with many a colleague that Saturday Night Live was a show created for pastors--because everyone knows where we will be on Saturday night!  At home, psyching up for tomorrow.  While Saturday night is the most relaxing night on the calendar for the typical 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday worker, it is a night that serves a great many purposes for us preachers...hence, why I write this to you on a Saturday night.  It's, in a way, really a work night.

I know some pastors who will spend their Saturday nights in their home offices fine-tuning their sermons...I prefer not to do that because my sermons have to be more deliberately thought-out; an extemporaneous preacher I am emphatically not.  But I *will* spend Saturday nights reviewing my Sunday School lesson plans, my notes for tomorrow's board meeting, thinking about a communion meditation, those sorts of things.

But I much prefer (if possible--and sometimes after a particularly hectic week, it just isn't possible) to spend Saturday nights preparing not my material, but preparing myself.  I don't need to lock myself in my study--I live alone, for Pete's sake--so instead I set down a stack of books next to my recliner, turn on the lamp, brew some tea or coffee, and immerse myself.  Or I'll go for a walk, which is often when a lot of my prayer time happens.  Or--especially if it's a cold, starry night outside--I'll head down to my apartment complex's hot tub and sauna and try to meditate.

All of that, on the surface, probably sounds colossally boring by Saturday night standards.  I honestly can't remember the last time, excepting vacations, I went out on a Saturday night; it may well have been during my years in seminary.  Jeez, now in addition to acting like an old man on Saturday nights, I've taken to writing like one as well.

In any case, one of the biggest purposes I have found for my blogging has been to try to shed some light on the life of a solo pastor, especially as it relates to the behind-the-scenes stuff.  And behind-the-scenes, Saturday nights are an unusual beast for us.  I have one colleague who told me once that he never sleeps well on Saturday nights.  Even after many years of preaching, he still feels the nerves.

To me, that's amazing--in a good way.  It's one of the ways we can be countercultural, we pastors.  It's one of the ways we can live against the grain.  I realized tonight--after said tea-fueled reading session--that so many of those habits were, yes, about preparing my mind, but even more so about quieting it.  Because I know that come Sunday morning, my mind will take its three cups of coffee and go straight into overdrive, running about like a lab rat on Red Bull (say that ten times fast...seriously), but at least tonight, I can appreciate serenity on a night not normally associated with serenity.

For in the end, if Sunday morning is about doing, going, and happening, Saturday night is simply about being.  We are to be quiet.  We are to be still.  And God will give us direction.

After all, as God says to Moses at the burning bush, "I will be with your tongue, and I will teach you what you are to say."

That might be the biggest and most important thing about Saturday nights for us pastors.  It is what we do...we let God prepare us for what we are to say.

Yours in Christ,