An Old Joke

Tuesday, August 20, 2019
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Listen while you read: "Lord Of All Being Throned Afar"1 (Lyrics)

John 10:4 – When [the shepherd] has brought out all His own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. (NIV)

Like most pastors, I'm often jokingly told that our jobs are easy because we work only one day a week. Usually, I laugh along with the person, who thinks that this is exceedingly funny, but within my heart, I'm actually weeping for myself and other pastors. What most folks never realize is that we're always working, always praying, always thinking about the church and the people, even when we're supposed to be resting, vacationing, or having a day off. If people really want to tell the joke as pastors truly experience it, it should be told this way: Pastors are God's biggest fools — they don't even get time off for good behaviour.

Ministry is the one occupation on earth that has one unique and important part of its function: ministry has eternal consequences. The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker deal with the here and now. Teachers, counselors, and therapists deal with life issues and personal choices. Business people, political leaders, and CEOs work with expanding their markets and lifetime events. Only ministry deals with the eternal side of things; only ministry outlasts them all.

My main role, like that of many pastors, is to guide folks toward Christ, so that in the midst of all of society's noise, they can still hear His voice calling them. It's not a popular responsibility, which is why fewer folks are becoming pastors these days. It's not something that can be equated with anything else either, because none of the other wonderful professions, vocations, or careers involve eternity.

Perhaps, next time when you're with a pastor and feel the urge to tell the old one-day-a-week joke, just set it aside; instead let her or him know how much you are blessed by that one day in the week, when the pastor tries to help you to get closer to Christ, so that one glorious day, you can experience the joy, peace, and love that is everlasting.

Question for personal reflection: How often do I think about the eternal side of my life? Am I willing to let my pastor help me to contemplate eternity seriously?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us all to listen for Your voice, so that we may positively respond to Your calling. Enable us to embrace Your words, so that we can actually become attached to Your way, truth, and life. Bless all who seek to lead us to You. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

John Stuart <>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    From one to another, John, Amen.

    Thank you, John. As the daughter of a pastor, I truly appreciate what you said.

    Dear John,
    Thank you for this thoughtful reminder.

    Thank you, Pastor John, for being one of those people to help us grow closer and closer to God.
    May He bless you in all you do.

    Your message today is so true and well written. May God bless you and all your peers who try to lead us to the Light, in this world of ever-increasing meaningless nonsense.

    Thank you, John, for sharing your heart through your devotional today. Thank you also for your love, devotion, commitment, and service to the Lord and to His people. Amen.

    Dear John, Thank you for sharing the other side. It is hard to understand when you don’t live it unless someone takes the time to share. May many blessings come from this devotional.

    Amen and Amen, John. Even in retirement we never cease to pray, study Scripture, and help at every opportunity thanking God in all situations. Thanks for sharing, friend. Blessings.

    Great commentary on “stale jokes” that people think are so original. Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard that one many times. I really liked your paragraph talking about the function of various jobs. Thought provoking!

    Greetings John,
    Thank you for writing this devotional for today. For sure there are many that do not realize all that the job of “Pastor” entails. It truly is a 24hr. – 7 day a week responsibility. I was aware of this during my time of working at the hospital when a patient would ask to have their pastor called, even sometimes during the night. Blessings to you for choosing the occupation of service to our Lord and faithfully fulfilling all the duties it requires.

    Dear Pastor John,
    I agree with your view and I for one, though not a Pastor, never think a Pastor’s work is only on one day of the week.
    One aspect of a Pastor’s challenge that you should have mentioned was that the moment a person sets out to do God’s work, he or she immediately becomes a very concentrated target for Satan who relentlessly attacks them with everything he’s got to get them off their path.
    I wish you God’s best always.
    (Ontario, Canada)

    John Stuart, sorry. Not true. Just as you cannot fit the assignment of a pastor in a box, please don’t put the laboring laymen in a box also.
    They are the ones that fill your pews and pay your bills. As an employer, we think more of our employees then just a paycheck. We care about their well-being and eternal existence just as you do. And as commanded, we pray for one another. We appreciate your work, however, it is one body. The hand is useless without an arm.

    Good Morning John,
    What a ‘heads up, people’! Thanks for heightening our awareness of this ‘not so funny joke’.
    I sure have been thankful for ministers and other Christians who have shared the message of eternity with my husband and me throughout the years as he is experiencing it as of 5 months ago!
    Fortunate is the ‘flock’ you tend to have such a caring pastor. May you be blessed as you continue to minister to them and to those of us who are privileged to read your devotionals! Please keep writing!

    Bless you for all you do. I work at night in the church, volunteer bookkeeper with another job. I am astounded by the folks who call at seven and eight pm and expect the Pastor to be in his office ready to take their call. People call at all hours and expect their Pastor to be immediately available and these are not emergencies, one lady asked me to call the Pastor at home because she needed prayer because her home wasn’t selling as fast as she would like.
    Bless you and others who are willing to accept a very challenging and demanding job.

    My husband tells our minister that joke about him only working one day a week.
    We also get after him for not taking off on Monday.
    One time a couple of years ago my husband sent a posting by Rick Warren ‘you are working all the time do you think you are God?’ Well it wasn’t mentioned by either side for a couple of months, then our minister was messaging back and forth with both of us. All of a sudden I realized it was Monday, so I sent an email ‘What is wrong with you? This is Monday.’
    Very shortly my husband got an email from the minister saying I just got your email. Due to a change in email he got the email 2 months later. My husband had said you are working too hard, so he thought it funny that it got to him at just the perfect time. He guessed God must have been controlling his email.

    Hello John,
    My Grandpa who I adored, his sons, and several other relatives are all ministers. I wasn’t going to marry one, didn’t, but my awesome new husband began the next several years preparing for a journey – only the Lord knew. After becoming the Senior, he realized this was not the area of ministry for him. At the same time a new ministry was opening that was totally new and he became a Navy Chaplain!!
    I loved that ministry with a passion, and we continued our lives and ministry as a never-ending team. All of us who are Christians are in ministry as everyone lives the testimony of our lives that others see and hear from us. It’s taken me a “few” words to thank you for your devotional and I always enjoy yours.

    Dear Pastor John Stewart,
    Thank you for your very meaningful and thought out message.
    My father-in-law was a pastor and led a congregation of over one thousand members. Not only that but he also owned a cattle farm requiring daily work, including Sundays. As his boys became old enough, they helped on the farm, including Sundays.
    My father-in-law was never paid any wages, as the people in our little village were all very poor, as were my parents.
    Our pastor and his wife visited as many members of the congregation as they could in their homes. They also brought food and gave financial aid to the widows in the village.
    Only God knows the difficult time they went through, but our faithful heavenly father surely had a wonderful reward for them when they entered their heavenly home. God’s love and grace is “beyond measure.”
    (B.C. Canada)

    Totally agree thank you for taking on such a difficult and important career. God Bless you also.

    Dear John Stuart,
    That might be a “joke”, but it is not funny.
    I have worked for years in church-related work.
    I pray for God’s greatest blessing for you as you continue to serve him making known the love of Jesus Christ and his promise of everlasting to those who believe that Jesus died to offer them eternal life and with a walk with him now and forever through faith in His provision.
    Keep writing.

    I always appreciate your devotionals. I am guilty of the very thing your devotional refers to. We have had the privilege of knowing personally and working alongside pastors and their wives, so I certainly know better.
    In any event, your devotional spoke to me. Thank you for it.

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