At First Methodist there are four ordained ministers who serve the church. I am the Senior Minister. Linda Clark, Doug Cain and Clair Carter are the other three ministers. I am honored to serve with them. It is an interesting dynamic among our ministers. Linda and Doug Cain are officially retired. They both served the church well in their active years and have reached, what former Methodists called the superannuated status. If you “Google” that word, you might wonder what Methodists were doing to their ministers to make them arrive at a superannuated status.
Doug Cain served this church as the Senior Minister for fourteen years. He knows where the skeletons are buried. He remembers our members in a time in their lives when they were making memories. Linda too! Besides their knowledge of First Methodist history, Doug and Linda share another common trait.
When you retire in the Methodist church, the Bishop gives you a secret word you can use at any time when someone asks you a question. That word is “NO!” They have both used their good boundary word with me. Would you like to preach? NO. Would you like to head up this project? NO. Would you like to participate in this funeral or officiate over this wedding? NO. They are not that bad, I was using hyperbole to make a point. They say, “No.” Have you ever known a minister to say, “No?” You should drop by the church one day and ask them a question, you might hear one of them say, “No.” One day, about a decade from now the Bishop will give me the superannuated secret word. Drop by in July of 2027 and hear me say, “No.”
Clair Carter is the other associate at our church. Yes, her grandfather was the pastor at First Baptist for many years. Clair is also the Wesley Foundation minister at NSU. Clair is so young she remembers college and seminary. She is wise. She is smart. We call her our “Clarifier.” She asks good questions when we are planning a church event. She is a great preacher. Clair facilitates our weekly staff meetings. Yesterday she was leading the meeting.
She gave all the staff, even the Senior Minister a couple of note cards. She told us we had a few minutes to think about two people in the church for whom we were thankful and write a note expressing our gratitude for them. It was heartwarming to listen to the staff share stories about the persons for whom they were thankful and the storied about why they were thankful for them.
I needed that infusion of gratitude because I had been in a most foul mood. I discovered quickly that generosity and gratitude are fast acting antidotes for a bad mood and a foul disposition.
So, I’m thankful for you as I write this. So many of you comment to me about these little tomes. You read them. Some have told me they have been helped by them. Over the course of these eight or so years, I have even received a couple of rebuttals from these articles. I am humbled when you express your gratitude. I’m thankful that you read these missives.
Clair’s exercise caused me to think about my life as a minister. To quote the old cowboy,
“I don’t gotta do this, I get to do this.” I am thankful for the freedom I have as a Christian and as an American. I am thankful that I live in Natchitoches and that, as a community, we get lit every year about this time. I am thankful for the church I serve and the people with whom I share the joys of ministry.
I’m getting you started early for next week. Picture in your mind two people for whom you are thankful. Do you have them in mind now? Good! Now write and tell them. Use snail mail it shows that you cared enough to attach the stamp. It will make their day.
It will also help you, because it is hard to be in a bad mood when you are saying or living, thanks!