Since Thursday of last week my supervisor has been out of town, leaving me as the only "pastor" on site. He got back today (Tuesday) and it took until today to really feel like I can be a pastor. And there is a couple of reasons why. First was the monthly pastor's meeting (local ELCA Lutheran pastors, don't get too excited). There was no preset agenda for the meeting for the day so what we did was go around the room, just checking in with each congregation that was represented there. Now, normally I go with my supervisor and neither one of us says much. I say little because I defer to Pastor Joe (my supervisor) for any information about what is happening at church. And Pastor Joe says little because is rather introverted and doesn't say much to begin with. But today was different, Pastor Joe wasn't there, so I said very little for the majority of the meeting. I listened to each pastor and/or intern say something about the congregation that they were at until everyone had their turn and finally someone said that we should hear about what is going on at Family (Family of Christ is the congregation that I am at). Now I finally get to speak as an equal. Pastor Joe isn't here to speak to the rest of the group on behalf of Family, it is now my responsibility. I reflect on what is going on at Family as well as a couple of other things that I noticed during the course of the meeting. I felt like I was on equal terms with everyone in the room, and not just the interns! After the meeting was over, a couple of the pastors came and talked to me about what I had said and I finally felt like I was able to make a connection with the people that were present in that group (after seven months of going to these meetings!).
The second thing that happened was that after I got back from my meeting I talked with the church secretary and asked her what it was that I had missed while I was gone all morning. I fully expected to have missed nothing but I was told that there was a small emergency that happened and instead of having my first thought be that I should defer to Pastor Joe for whatever might end up happening, I took charge and made phone calls. It was an interesting transition to have the thought that I can't take care of this emergency to this is something that I need to address and it will do no good to wait until Pastor Joe can take care of it.
The reality of the situation is that these are rather small incidents in the course of the week, but it made me feel like I am finally filling this role. It is one thing to lead worship and preach and teach confirmation and to help with the youth, but it is another to add this pastoral element that has been lacking so far in my experience. In seven and a half months of time at this church, today I felt like a pastor; and I think that I can live with that position. I don't think that I have to run away from it or fear that I will be inadequate. If there ever was an experience that was going to reaffirm my call, today was just that.