Posted tagged ‘the end’

Coming Up With A Title

September 12, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          September 12, 2017


I enjoy writing. It’s where I drink most of my coffee, while sitting on a stool at Starbucks at 7:30 in the morning…or at one of the lower level tables at our local library. I don’t know if it’s the caffeine that gets the words percolating or the comfortableness of the writing spot. My life is now a mixture of writing, coaching, substitute teaching, Sunday preaching, and grandpa-ing!

I recently completed the manuscript of a book I’ve been compiling for a while. Over the summer I was able to put more time into it and, finally, came to the words “THE END” about three weeks ago. A teaching friend, Marise DeKlerk, and a long-time friend, Diana Stucky, are doing editing of the manuscript for me and offering suggestions. Diana, especially, has given me some great feedback that has helped me to strengthen the characters and storyline.

The only thing is…I can’t figure out what to title the book! Titles make people take notice! I spend a lot of time at my public library looking for a new book to read. I survey the shelves that hold countless titles in numerous categories. The title draws me in…or not! I can only read one book at a time, and here I have a multitude of choices.

The book is about a boy named Randy who has moved to a new town, Fleming, West Virginia, with his family as he is about to enter his freshman year of high school. His father is a Baptist pastor coming Fleming to pastor the First Baptist Church. Randy has bright red hair that makes him stand out. He is a young man of great character and humbleness…who also happens to be a very, very good basketball player. He befriends Ethan, the seventh grader who lives across the street from him, and who is seen as being the weird kid in his class because of his thick eyeglasses and awkwardness. Randy’s basketball talent draws attention to him from around the state, but it never changes who he is…a person of character who understands that basketball is just a game, and there are more important things in life.

I could title the book simply “Randy”, or “Shots from Red”, or “New Kid”, or “New Freshman”, or “Bowman” (his last name!). I could go with location and title it “Fleming”, or “The Flame of Fleming”, do basketball specific titles like “Swish!” or “Roundball!”

None of those, however, really catch my eye! I’m stuck! I’m at a loss! How can I write a great story but be clueless about what to call it?

The Closure of Pastoring

January 18, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     January 18, 2016


In our kitchen there is a cupboard door that just won’t stay latched! I get out my screwdriver, loosen the two screws, reposition the latching mechanism, tighten the screws, and shut the door. I leave the room under the illusion that I have fixed it. Two hours later, as I pass through the kitchen again, I see that the door has come unlatched again. When…I don’t know! It just did… sometime after I was sure it was closed nice and tight!

That image also defines the closure of pastoring. I preached my last sermon yesterday, was hugged and embraced at an afternoon reception, and now the cupboard has been closed.

Or has it? Similar to coming back to the kitchen a little later, pastoring is a very, very difficult thing to come to closure. The life you’ve lived for the past three and a half decades is weaved into the fabric of other people’s journeys. Like ripping a patch off of a pair of jeans, there is a mark left…perhaps a hole or a gap. A pastor is tossed between the waves of letting go and still caring so! There is the recognition that there must be a moving on, and yet the congregation you are leaving has been a vital part of your journey for as long as you can remember. The walking together has been so profound that the pastor now has a hard time remembering when certain events happened, when someone passed away, when that mission trip took place, or when someone’s serious surgery happened. It’s all a part of the story, like old episodes of M.A.S.H., that have been watched so often that the dialogue has been memorized. The journey of a pastor is the collection of stories of lives changed, grace realized, and reconciliation experienced.

And the cupboard door suddenly creaks as it slightly inches open.

How do you have closure as a pastor? I’m not sure you can. Loving a church is not like a faucet that suddenly gets turned off, or turned back on. Like the door, the depth of the relationships the pastor has had spring the latch and your heart is flooded with concern.

And I think that’s okay! A couple of weeks ago I walked into the kitchen and the cupboard door was wide open. I wasn’t expecting that and I ran right into it! When we allow the door of our ministry to remain wide open, as it was before we stepped aside, the potential for collisions is greatly increased. A pastor who refuses closure simply gets in the way, becomes a nuisance, or, at worst, a brick barrier that blocks a group of Christ-followers from continuing the journey.

I’ve given up on fixing the cupboard latch. It is what it is! And perhaps I’ll let it be as a reminder of who I am, closed but not shut!