Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I like getting together with family and friends, being thankful, watching football and eating too much. Those are 4 of my favorite things to do all wrapped up into one holiday. It is also nice that Thanksgiving is a 2-day holiday instead of being relegated to the 1-day holiday status like Labor Day and other national holidays. Actually, here in Minnesota they have even thrown in Wednesday as well, so the kids got 3 days off from school. I, didn’t get Wednesday off, but I did go home early. Basically because I needed to make some pies.
That’s right, I make the pies in our family. Are you surprised? I was! One day, when I was working as an associate pastor in my first church back in Indiana, I came home and declared to my wife that I was going to make a pie that evening. You see, as a pastor, there are many times when it feels like you are not finishing anything, but only adding more things to your to do list. And that can be frustrating. I wanted to take on a project that I could begin and end that evening. Something that would allow me to be creative and expressive and that would allow me to enjoy the fruits of my labor after I was finished. Is that too much to ask?
And I did it. It took me about 5 hours and at least 2 trips to the grocery store. But I made 2 apple pies, completely from scratch. I peeled the apples, made the crusts (top and bottom), got everything prepared and in the oven, and finally got to bed close to midnight after the pies had a chance to cool.
And believe it or not, I enjoyed it. And that got me interested in baking. Since those first 2 pies, baking has become a bit of a hobby for me. I don’t do pies often because they take a lot of time, but I enjoy experimenting with different kinds of cookies. Just ask my children who makes the best chocolate chip cookies! Along the way I have had plenty of flops. One of the nice things about having 4 kids is that even when a cookie experiment doesn’t turn out so well, as long as it’s got sugar in it, my kids will eat every last one of them. So while I sometimes have cookies that don’t turn out the way I would like them to, they never get wasted at the Mapstone house.
So this year for Thanksgiving I made a French Apple Pie (the kind with the crumb topping) and a Caramel Apple Pecan Pie. Both turned out pretty well. Most people are surprised when they find out that I bake a “mean” apple pie. I guess I just don’t look like a baker? But I found out that you never know what you might be good at until you try it. And who knows, you just might find that you like doing something that you didn’t expect. The same is true in the church. There are all kinds of jobs that need to be done. Some of them require specific gifts in order to be done well, but others just need someone who is willing to give it a try. As a church body, we need to be willing to get out there and try some of these things.
I didn’t become a pastor until I was almost 30 years old. Before that I was a graphic designer. But before going into full-time ministry I have served in the church in a whole bunch of different ways. I had handled the sound board, led games at AWANA, worked with the youth group, cleaned the church, served in the nursery, taught Sunday School, headed up a small-group, drawn cartoons for the church newsletter, coached the basketball team, redesigned the church bulletin, served on different committees, and been a deacon. Some of those things I was good at, some not so much, but all of those provided opportunities for me to serve and to find out what I was good at. Each one of those opportunities helped prepare me for full-time ministry. Yes, even serving in the nursery helped prepare me to be the pastor I am today.
I guess what I am saying is that too often when someone asks us to consider doing something at the church, our default answer is “no.” I decided to say “yes,” to a lot of things that I might not have tried, and it eventually led to me becoming a pastor. Who knows what God has in store for you? I never thought that I would be the one who makes the pies in our family. But I gave it a try and I found out that it was something that I enjoy doing and I am actually pretty good at it. Who know, you might find the same thing if you are willing to try something new?