What Rectors Really Do

Based on a couple of comments from our 10-year-old son, Zack, I decided to write a job description for what rectors really do. A few months ago he told me my job was lame because all I do is “wear dresses and pray all day.” That pretty much sums up priestly ministry. This morning he amended/tweaked this description by announcing that all I do is “type, stand up, and talk.” Again, not a bad summary.

But of course I do so much more than this on a daily basis — like drink coffee. So here’s the full rector job description as it gets lived out in parishes throughout the world — feel free to add others based on personal experience or observation.

What a Rector Really Does

1. Wait for the mail man to arrive bearing handwritten notes from parishioners saying how great you are. Since this always leads to disappointment, rectors wait for the next best thing: pledge cards and the Wippell’s catalog.

2. Fantasize about ordering fancy vestments hand-made by English monks.

3. Sit in front of office computer with e-mail open and repeatedly hit send/reply.

4. Type stuff on i-Pad/laptop that may or may not be relevant to parish ministry.

5. Drink coffee. Repeat.

6. Go out on “pastoral calls” to the beach and/or local pub.

7. Use caller ID to screen calls from parishioners.

8. Walk around the church campus smiling benignly at people.

9. Wonder who’s playing in the 1 pm NFL game while parishioners talk at you during coffee hour.

10. Eat, pray, love. In that order.

11. Ask secretary to make another pot of coffee.

12. Have lunch with loaded parishioner. Then act surprised when they insist on paying as you make a show of slowly reaching for your wallet.

13. Delete e-mails you don’t want to deal with and then claim you never received them. Repeat as needed.

14. Allow your eyes to glaze over during the Treasurer’s Report at vestry meetings.

15. At weddings, preach the same homily you wrote as a curate lo those many years ago.

16. Outwardly thank parishioners who enthusiastically give you a cross they brought back from their recent trip to _____ while inwardly wishing for a good bottle of scotch.

17. Remember to “invite” the curate to preach on Trinity Sunday.

18. Cower in your private bathroom when you hear the Altar Guild Directress calling your name.

19. During liturgies, use your mind to will the organist to play hymns at a quicker tempo but never actually discuss it.

20. Do the royal wave when you see a gaggle of elderly volunteers folding the Sunday bulletins but…Don’t. Ever. Stop.

21. Drink sherry while sitting on the leather sofa in your anteroom but never before 10:00 am.

22. Leave notes for the sexton but never actually have a conversation with him. Nothing good ever comes out of it.

23. Work on your “stained glass voice” or faux British accent but only after hours when no one is in ear shot.

24. Say things like “Good morning!” and “Nice to see you!” on the receiving line after services when you have no idea who you’re greeting.

25. Tell people you have “diocesan responsibilities” when seeking to avoid parochial drudgery.

26. Tell people you have “parochial responsibilities” when seeking to avoid diocesan drudgery.

27. Model clergy wellness by leaving the office at 3:30 pm each day and taking two months off during the summer.

28. Suggest the Youth Group service project involves washing and waxing the rector’s car.

29. Convince yourself that wasting time on Facebook is “virtual ministry.”

30. Keep your office door shut and tell your secretary to “hold all my calls” to give the illusion that you’re working on a profoundly intellectual sermon so you can play Tetris in peace.

Well, that’s it for now. But at least blogging is online ministry, right?


5 Comments on “What Rectors Really Do”

  1. Jan W Nunley says:

    Must be a guy thing.

  2. Darn, you spilled the beans. Now I’ll actually have to do something useful….

  3. Roman Catholic version is similar only less civil because the Catholic Church ain’t no stinkin’ democracy!

  4. Kevin Olds says:

    You have a private bathroom? And an anteroom? And a secretary that makes coffee? Luxury!

  5. Father Tim says:

    Kevin, I have to admit that I exaggerated a bit. It’s the sexton who makes the coffee, not the secretary. Poetic license?


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