According to Mirriam Webster the definition of Pastor is a spiritual overseer. It’s etymology Middle English pastour, from Anglo-French, from Latin pastor herdsman, from pascere to feed. Pastors do feed their flock. You are blessed if you receive fresh, nourishing food from a Pastor.
The definition of Boss is to exercise control or authority over. A great boss leads in a way that the employee never feels controlled but yet will respect the authority and thrive under it.
A Mentor is a trusted counselor or guide. Someone who teaches in every situation and causes you to grow beyond what you imagined.
A Friend is one attached to another by affection or esteem. A long friendship often morphs from surface conversations to entrusting another with basically your life, knowing that a true friend will hold your life and tenderly pray, admonish and love you no matter what. A true friend can be sarcastic and joke while all the time reaching out with care.
We just returned this week from a trip to San Diego. We haven’t been there since Little Miss was born. We landed and the muscle memory of living there most of our lives took over. It was a weird sensation. At times I wondered what I had in my refrigerator in my kitchen in our old house. That lasted only a few minutes until I realized I no longer had a refrigerator, kitchen or house in San Diego.
Along with the muscle memory came the flood of memories in each turn of the freeway. A feeling of home, yet not home.
We walked into a home that held so many precious times, wedding showers, rehearsal dinners, baby showers, birthday celebrations, Boxing Day celebrations, church. It still held the peace and comfort it always had.
The babies that had showers for are now young adults. They tower over me, and bring joy to my heart in their smiles. They are the grandchildren of our friends.
I started this post with definitions. Each describe one man. He was our pastor, he was my boss for many years, he was our mentor, speaking truth and life and encouragement into our lives. Most of all, he was our friend.
We went to say good-bye. Sounds simple enough. Sounds like it should be easy as it is only two words. We all say good-bye daily. It flows off our tongue without thought. This was not a simple thing to do. Yes, we know where his home is now. We know that his diseases are gone, healed, never to be felt again. He is walking with ease, breathing with ease, laughing aloud with his contagious laugh. Yet, we here, only hear the echoes of his voice.
The time we had was bittersweet. We reminisced, we laughed, we cried, we sang. I watched teenage grandchildren move closer to adulthood. You could see it reflected in their faces. The boys who were teasing, laughing poking fun at each other became more stoic, jaws set, eyes focused, shoulders able to bear a load no one wanted them to bear. I saw a granddaughter perform tasks that she had learned in training to be an EMT. Memories of her as a flower girl rolling her eyes because her Papa was taking too long talking during a ceremony, when she just wanted to twirl in her dress and smell her sunflower. This little girl, was now professional, caring and diligent watching over her Papa while longing for a conversation.
My friend, his wife, being faithful and loving through this all. Moments of tears and laughter and song, sometimes all of them at once. I learned from her again, as her example to me just continued.
It was a bittersweet week. I had a plan on what I wanted to say and do and yet, when it came down to it, my tears fell freely, and the best I could do was hold a hand (well, several over the week), be a shoulder to lean on or cry on and just be there. It was one of the best weeks and hardest weeks ever.
But, Pastor, thank you for always giving us fresh bread from the throne of God. It fed us and nourished us. It gave us strength and encouraged us. We are better because of that, and after all a call to salvation is a call to ministry. That will stay with me.
Boss, I had so much fun in the office. It truly was my best job. You taught me that I could do things and do some of them pretty good. I never had such a great place to go each day, I never dreaded walking into the office. I learned how to prank from the best of pranksters. That truly is an art you had mastered.
Mentor, hubby and I would not be where we are or who we are without you (you too Lois). We learned how to be the best we could be. Thank you for the hours, days, months and years you poured into us.
Friend. John, you will be missed, but, we will see you again. And the four of us will spend eternity sipping coffee together when we aren’t praising Jesus, are there any Starbucks in Heaven? If so, find the one with the best seating where we can sit around and catch up or maybe find the best hamburgers there.
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, Hebrews 9:27