Skip to main content

I am the pastor's robe

I'm finally going through the six bookcases of books I own. By the encouragement of my husband, I've got to get rid of some of them. :) I came across a book I didn't know I owned: Courageous Spirit: Voices from Women in Ministry. I flipped through it and landed on this story below. I have yet to wear a robe in ministry but this story still spoke deeply to my soul.

I am the pastor's robe. I hang on the office door amidst stoles, crosses, and bubble necklaces. I see her furrowed brow as she types at her computer. I see her laughing on the phone. I see her crying, bent forward in her chair as emotions gush forth from her depths.

I am the pastor's robe. I listen to meetings she holds with other people. I hear her strategize, think creatively, be funny. I hear her reflect the feelings of others. I hear her miss the point, get defensive. I hear her listening. I hear her regroup. I hear her relax, be playful. I hear how hard she is trying; I hear how hard she can be.

I am the pastor's robe. On Sundays she puts me on. I feel her weariness, her excitement. I feel her mustering courage, will, hope. I feel her love for others coming through me. I feel her fear of being hurt, being wrong, being different - and hiding inside me. I feel her forget why she chose this path. I feel her forget she ever doubted it.

I am the pastor's robe. She takes me off. She hangs me back up. I witness a content smile as she remembers the day, a welling in the eyes when she remembers someone's words. She shuts her computer down, grabs her bag, picks up her keys, and turns to me.

She neither wants nor waits, neither wonders nor worries. She simply looks - thinking of the day she got me, imagining the day she'll fold me. She reflects on the day of growing old and smiles, remembering with grace her furrowed brow and her hard efforts. Remembering with amusement her seriousness and anxiety. Smiling with joy, because she never stopped laughing or learning or risking love.

I am the pastor's robe. I am her gown of proclamation, her apron of service, her shield from negative forces, and her gateway to the Spirit. I am the pastor's robe. See how she wears me.

- Crystal R. Sygeel
Pacific Northwest Conference


Most Read

Why Some Experienced Clergy (and Lay People) Have a Hard Time When Younger Clergy Take Renewal Leave

This is a guest post from my very own dad! He's a United Methodist pastor serving in Bend, Oregon. I enjoy chatting church leadership with my dad and it's fascinating to see how our generational differences bring different perspectives to our calling as pastor. We need each generation to walk with each other as we figure it out in this new world. We've been reflecting lately as I finished up a renewal leave and he prepares to retire this June. 
By David Beckett
I fall into the category of experienced clergy which is a polite way of saying I am old. I’ve been pastoring for nearly 40 years. When I was a young pastor my role models were mostly white males who presented an image of success that equated with dedication, overwork, and sacrifice. My first senior pastor talked about the 20 hr/wk he invested in sermon preparation. And he expected his staff to work beyond their stated hours. During those three years of full time seminary and a large youth group I put in up to 80 hr/…

Why pastors need collaboration, not competition

There's competition in every industry. Some get promoted over others. Some work incredibly hard but their gifts go unnoticed. Others do good work and people assume they're fine but underneath, they feel like they could never be honest about how hard life is in this season. People spend more energy figuring out how they measure up in a work culture instead of doing the actual work.

Competition itself implies there are two sides.

I remember field days at my elementary school in Alaska. The half-frozen spring ground was covered with clumps of dirty gray snow. Jackets were thrown on the ground as the fourth graders tried to beat the fifth graders at tug of war. Rope burns were shrugged off as sweat dripped down our young faces. We were determined to beat those fifth graders. Our pride was on the line.

Whether you're a fourth grader or an ad manager at a fancy marketing agency or a senator trying out for attorney general, competition runs deep in our DNA.

We want to be the bes…

99 sheep

Reading Matthew 18:10-14 on this cloudy Anchorage summer morning. Parable of the Lost Sheep. A guy owns 100 sheep. They belong to him. These sheep are loyal and depend on their owner for everything. But then one wanders away. I wonder if this sheep wandered on purpose or accident?

The guy leaves the 99 sheep grazing on the hillside to look for the sheep who got lost. One word in verse 13 jumped out to me. "Andifhe finds [the sheep]...he is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 that did no wander off." IF he finds it. This guy who owns the sheep probably knows the hillside very well and knows his sheep's behavioral patterns. But he may not find this lost sheep. 

When someone wanders off, it's up to them if they want to get found. 

When it comes to our connection to God, some of us may wander on accident. Or on purpose. 

We wait for someone to rescue us. Bring us back. Make it okay. But we have to turn towards the one rescuing us. God will leave the other 99 sheep…