One of my all-time favorite things to do is go to my denomination’s general assembly. Before you stop reading out of incredulity, I’m not talking about the long business sessions, endless myriad of financial statistics, and administrative reports. As necessary as such things are, I’ve contemplated stabbing myself with a fork to make the meetings more interesting. Nevertheless, I’m instead talking about the fellowship and camaraderie that I find at these meetings.
Ministers are funny creatures that live something of a dual-existence. Most people in the church see their pastor as a dignified, quiet, and solemn figure—the one who prays eloquently, offers words of godly counsel, and preaches Christ from all of Scripture with great unction. On the other hand, get a group of pastors away from their churches after a long day of business meetings at a general assembly and you’ll see a completely different set of men. These solemn and dignified men laugh, tell stories, in a most undignified way! I’m not saying that they engage in anything sinful. Rather, I’m saying that they are a riot to be with. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life as when I listen to the various stories I hear. Pastors will recount the good, bad, and the ugly of church life. Keep in mind, they’re not gossiping but sharing concerns, joys, and sorrows with their brothers in arms. They know that the men sitting around the circle are intimately familiar with the challenges of pastoral ministry unlike most in the church—they share the same joys and battle scars.
Such a circle of fellowship has been the best and most edifying aspect of my ministry. Cramming into a minivan with eight other pastors and heading off into the night for fellowship, food, and fun has been at times much needed medicine for my soul. When I fellowship with my brothers in arms, I am reminded that I’m not alone—that Christ has gifted his church with godly men who care about the church. I am reminded that Christ has given his church wise pastors, those whom I can seek counsel for difficult circumstances. I am reminded that I can share my woes with a trusted colleague who will be a vault and who will lift me up in prayer. And I am reminded that pastors can be some of the funniest people and that uproarious laughter can be an excellent elixir and a reminder not to take yourself too seriously.
The pastorate is filled with many challenges, doesn’t offer great wealth, and can be a crucible where providence can make you feel like you’re being crushed. But it also has some wonderful benefits, and chief among them is the fellowship with your band of brothers. My ministerial colleagues are, to me, the best fraternity in the world.