Susanne and I are spending the better part of this week at the Pfister hotel in Milwaukee for the District Superintendents leadership conference. This leadership development conference is for D.S.’s in Canada and the United States. There will be 70 of us and our spouses as well as resource people from our denomination, and special speakers and guests as well. Two things stuck me as we prepared to make the drive for our home to the hotel today. Years ago I could not have imagined us having a conference in Milwaukee. I am sure Milwaukee is fine city. From what I have seen today, it is quite beautiful. Lake Michigan is three blocks from the hotel, and as I write this I can see the Lake and it is quite impressive. In my lifetime I have seen Lake Michigan from nearly all angles and perspectives. I am quite taken with Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes. Milwaukee does not strike me as a conference city, and especially for those who don’t drink beer. But that is not the most odd thing about all of this, I am staying in what is described as “the most haunted hotel in America, perhaps the world!!” I would be the first person to say District Superintendents are probably in need of a good scare. In my room I found two quotes from major league baseball players who have stayed here and gave an account of their brush with the paranormal.
As I was growing up and going to church and then attending a church college and then pastoring churches, and now superintending churches, I thought that life would be predictable. Chalk that up as an idea that never really materialized. Things I have done that I never imagined when I was young:
- I pastored a church that met in a building that once was a tavern/bar.
- I have ridden on an elephant
- I have preached in 7 countries
- I survived an auto accident
- I ate ice cream with James Dobson
- I met Al Sharpton in the Detroit Airport and talked with him for 10 minutes
- I met Steve Yzerman and shook his hand and had no idea who he was, or that I should have asked him for his autograph
- I saw Peyton Manning three times in the span of an hour and shook his hand twice and talked to him for five minutes and was so excited I did not ask him for an autograph.
- I was a passenger on a commercial plane that ran off the runway.
- I had a man, along with his wife, come to me for marriage counseling and during the counseling the gentleman pulled out a gun and said he was going to kill me. I now farm out all of my pre-marital counseling, it is not from laziness, but self-preservation.
- I have been on the board of a two separate homeless shelters, a soup kitchen, and two other community organizations over the years.
- I, who had no family members go to college, would for three years have some responsibility for the Course of Study for ministerial preparation in my denomination during the time I served as Director of Clergy Services
Every pastor I know could write a list filled with many things that they never dreamed they would do or experience. As I look back I realized that I had no idea what all was going to happen. All of this happened because I said yes to the Call to be a preacher/pastor. Many reading this are of the impression that pastors don’t live in the real world. I must say that pastors have a front row on the real world, each and every day.
As I have been in ministry since December of 1981, a brewery or two, and a haunted hotel seems like shall I say it? ….A Sunday School picnic.
Oh Yes I have found myself in some strange places and difficult situations as well as a few tough spots. Allow me to testify, the best place to be is always in the center of God’s will. His grace will take you through a lot of strange places!