July 30, 2011 Representing the Brand
Early this morning (5:00 am to be precise) our mission team to Central America met at the American Airlines check-in at Tampa International Airport. Andrew flew all the way from Italy to take part, and we left our house at 4:24 am! But I didn’t just drop him off, I touched base with the entire group.
Why? Because I’m the preachers’s spouse. I’ll try to explain:
My topic of interest in today’s post is the area of “being there.” Every preacher in the world is spread thin; it’s a fact of ministry that it’s impossible to satisfactorily stay ahead. Even if a church has just 25 active members it’s impossible for the preacher to keep up. One crisis can sometimes take an entire day and then the week’s schedule is already shot!
It helps that First Presbyterian of Brandon has amazing elders, creative ministry teams with excellent leadership, an active Stephen Ministry, and variety of nurturing small groups – plus three pastors on staff (Rebekah, Tim and Earl). But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still anywhere from one to a dozen places and events happening at any given moment where the senior pastor’s presence is expected, anticipated or at the very least desired.
And that, my friends is why there’s a whole category of “preacher’s spouse-ness” known as, “There’s no way I can make it could you possibly just show up?” Some people call this, “Taking one for the team.” Or, “Representing the brand.” Also understood as “unofficial ceremonial stand-in.”
Typically what I’m talking about is not even officially “unofficial.” Most of the time my being there isn’t even a conscious something that anyone would necessarily take note of or point out if it didn’t happen. But it’s meaningful all the same, because the gift of presence is one of the most important things we have to offer as the preacher’s spouse.
Let me share a couple of examples. This morning was one. Obviously I was taking Andrew to the airport because he’s our son and we love him. But skipping my usual “drop off” and going inside, then making sure I spoke to everyone in the mission team, and saying “Blessings” and “Peace” as they headed out through the first security checkpoint… these were all “preachers’ spouse things”, and they were qualitatively different because of that fact.
I’m also talking about:
- Some of the weddings or funerals I attend
- Receptions I have slipped into long enough to shake some particular hands
- Checks I’ve written and causes I support
- Girl Scout cookies I’ve purchased
- Retirements… graduations… even some parties I’ve crashed!
- Hospital waiting rooms I’ve prayed in
- Awards ceremonys I’ve applauded
- Toasts I’ve given
- Concerts I’ve sat through
- Sporting events I’ve cheered at… You get the picture.
There’s a chance I might have attended some of these events anyway. But there is something about the quality of presence and the fact that I’m there without Rebekah that states – pretty clearly – “The pastor at First Presbyterian is here in spirit, is thinking about what’s going on, and has you in her prayers.”
As preacher’s husbands we are pleased to have this awesome opportunity to make our own way, because there is no stereotype to fill. But that doesn’t mean we don’t still – sometimes:
- Wear a tie when we didn’t want to
- Attend a wedding we’d rather skip
- Shake an extra hand (of several hundred)
- Miss a game we wanted to see
- Kiss a cheek we’d rather not
- Laugh at a joke that wasn’t funny
- Eat a peanut-butter pie that made me gag (that’s a whole story of its own)…
It’s called being there, the ministry of presence, the ambassadorship of the office.
We’ve all been seated at the tail end of the head table at a public event, resisting the urge to visit our smart phone when the program gets tedious. And we acknowledge how much more fun it is when “The Preacher” is with us.
But it goes with the territory, and the majority of time I’m honestly thankful for the opportunity to be identified with such a dynamic ministry. We’re better together, always, but if there’s anything I can do to extend the ministry of presence… I’m there.
Just don’t forget to feed me!