Last week I took a couple of sick days off of work. This may sound like sad news, but I was actually quite thrilled. Because in my five years of being a pastor, I’ve never been able to take an actual sick day. Sure, I’ve been sick. And my kids have been sick (though thankfully, not too often). And I may have even canceled a meeting or two. But to actually work fewer hours in a week because of illness . . . it just never happened.

Until last week. And while I’m not glad I was sick, I am thrilled about being able to take sick days . . . thanks to our newly-hired administrative assistant, LaVonne!

I have had lots of great volunteer office help in the past, and I do not intend to diminish their volunteer work in any way. Still, there is something different, something wonderful, about having office staff. Even part-time.

Fortunately for all of us, LaVonne is a much more organized person than I am. I have a very efficient filing system for various paper materials that come into the office: I put everything in a pile, and then once every couple of years or so I put it all in the recycling because it’s all outdated.

Apparently LaVonne has a different system in mind, because she is going through these strategic piles. Our recycling box is full, to be sure. And I gather she is putting some things in file folders–which she is labeling. (You can tell this woman is a professional!) And then there are some things I just have to go through myself. She piles them in the middle of my desk. We’ve begun referring to these papers as “randomness.”

“I put some more randomness on your desk,” she’ll say.

Lot’s of the randomness papers are old to-do lists, which are quite fun to look through. And some of this randomness is definitely more random than others.

Here is my absolute favorite so far. It’s an 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 sheet of white paper with my hand-written notes on it.

One side reads, in part:
Lisa w/ budget blinds
Ps 40:79
p 319-wax
lust, laughter, loyalty

The other side reads, in part:
E-News, Order, Announcements
Ocean Mist
chain saw
weed whacker
Send reviews
return church books

Now I do not know what all of this randomness refers to.  I don’t remember what I was reviewing; I don’t know if “Ocean Mist” is a color or a fragrance or possibly a computer template; I have no idea what “wax” has to do with anything.  But apparently during the time I was writing on this particular piece of paper I was making arrangements about blinds, studying the scriptures, preparing for pre-marital counseling (? at least I hope “lust” was apropos of something), getting ready for a church work day, and taking care of basic office administration tasks.

Sometimes I feel like I am pulled in too many directions. I want more time to be still and to focus. And I think that, at some point, I will enter a stage of my life that will be a little more focused, a little less scattered.

But I also think the truth of the matter is that I enjoy the randomness. This little piece of paper with squiggles and scratches and disconnected notes makes me smile. And when I think that it represents what I get to do for my vocation–it makes me smile even more.

Despite LaVonne’s best efforts, I’m sure there will always be at least one pile of randomness in the church office. And I may just keep this paper in it indefinitely. When I get tired or frustrated or discouraged about my work as pastor, I can pull out this paper and say a little prayer: Thank you, God, that whatever challenges I may face, at least my job is not boring. Amen.

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