>It’s 2 a.m.  Do you know what your pastor is doing?  Well, I don’t either, but I can tell you what’s going on in my life right now.  I’m awake.  I’ve been awake for quite some time.  I could probably attribute it to the fact that my wife’s dog (notice: he’s my wife’s dog when I’m frustrated with him…. unless you ask her, then he’s my dog when she’s frustrated with him) decided that he needed to go to the bathroom twenty minutes ago.  I don’t mind taking the dog out at 2 a.m. because, if I don’t, he’ll probably pee in our bedroom, which means I have to get up and clean it up… at 2 a.m.

It’s possible that I’m awake because of the roasted garlic chicken pizza that I had for dinner.  I know that I shouldn’t eat too much of something that has garlic on it, especially if it is in the form of garlic butter.  For whatever reason, garlic butter doesn’t sit well with me.  That’s right, I just inadvertently told you that I have gas because of garlic chicken pizza… and now it’s not so inadvertent.  My stomach is slightly upset… at 2 a.m.

It’s possible that I’m awake because I’m really, really thirsty.  As I laid in bed, trying to get back to sleep, all I could think about was how thirsty I was at that moment.  Being thirsty is not one of those things that just goes away the more you think about it.  So, now I sit here with a glass of milk… at 2 a.m.

It’s possible that, for whatever reason, I started thinking about our personal finances.  Much like thirst, it’s a little difficult to just stop thinking about finances when they pop into your mind.  I’m not particularly worried about running out of money.  Katie and I both have good jobs that pay us well.  There’s really no reason to worry about it… I’ve actually paid all the bills for the month already, but I’m still thinking about our financial future… at 2 a.m.

It’s possible that I’m awake because I have things that have to be done today.  I have a sermon to finish, a bulletin to put together, print and make copies, DVDs to watch (seriously, I have DVDs that I have to watch as part of my job… then I have other DVDs that I wouldn’t mind watching, but probably won’t get around to for a while).  Things need to be done today, and they’re on my mind… at 2 a.m.

It’s possible that I’m awake because I’m thinking about some of the paperwork that I have to get done for ordination.  I have a sermon to write, spiritual reflections to…. reflect, and a Bible study to brush up all in the next two weeks as I work towards becoming a full member of the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.

It’s possible that all of these things are playing a role in why I’m awake and writing at 2 a.m, but I don’t think they are the primary reasons.  I’ve been thinking, praying, wondering what the future holds.  I’m wondering if the River Banks Cluster is going to do ministry that will make an impact on the world around us.  I’m wondering if Vermillion and Fountain Counties will be any different because of the presence of the United Methodist Church.  I wondering who in the world is going to want to take their free time and invest it in this thing that we are calling a ministry cluster, and if people from other churches are going to do the same.

The two churches that I serve in this area decided to join a different cluster.  I think it was a good move (that’s why I recommended it).  What I only partially realized at the time was that by making this move, I suddenly would become the cluster leader.  I don’t know what that looks like (which is why I have to watch those DVDs).  Honestly, I’m not sure if anybody really knows what that looks like, but I’m willing to give it a try.  I guess a part of me has always seen myself as a reluctant leader – someone who had the job because nobody else would do it.  Sometimes I forget that I have been called by God.  I don’t have to know exactly what to do, but I had better be prepared to listen for God’s call in the midst of everything.  That’s always easier said than done.

I’ve also been doing some reading over the last couple of nights.  I don’t read as much as I would like to, but once I get an interest in a book, it doesn’t take me too long to get through it.  I started reading Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones.  I love reading Andy Stanley’s books.  They are so simple, and yet so applicable in how I approach ministry.  This particular book is about one of my passions in ministry – preaching.

I know, I know, it sounds obvious that a “preacher” should be passionate about preaching.  Honestly, though, I don’t think that is always the case.  If some of the “preachers” that I have heard were passionate about what they were preaching, then they have a funny way of showing it.  By the way, you’ve probably noticed that I keep putting “preacher” in quotation marks.  That’s partly because I hate the term.  Pastors need to be more than preachers, they need to be visionary leaders… which is something that I sometimes struggle with.  Anyway… back to the book.

The first part of the book is written in narrative form, and it draws the reader in.  I seriously can’t believe that I read nearly 100 pages in about an hour and a half.  It usually takes me forever (seemingly) to read that many pages of most books.  I’m about to get into the nuts and bolts section of the book, and already, my preaching style is getting wrecked.

I want to preach messages that will make an impact on people’s lives.  I’m tired of hearing, “good sermon” and not seeing any real change in people’s lives because of what I’ve said.  I already know sermon topics until the end of May, but when I look at those topics, are they sermons that are going to move people to a place where God is calling them?  Or, are they just going to be another series of “good” sermons that people remember for a grand total of 2 hours… if that.

It’s 2:54 a.m. and I’ve been awake pondering these things for nearly an hour now.  Soon sleep will set in once again, and I’ll wake up with these issues still rattling around in my brain.  Ever wonder what pastors do at 2 a.m.?  Well, hopefully, for his/her sake, your pastor is sound asleep right now.  As for me… well, you know what’s going on tonight.