The parson waited as Fred walked through the traffic. He extended his hand in a warm greeting. Fred had been a student pastor at a previous church of the parson. The parson had wondered what happened to Fred. The student had been a little indecisive as to his future. One day he'd want to be a local pastor and the next a professor and the next a social worker.
“Well, I live here now, Fred,” the parson said. “Just down the road a bit. If you have a minute, let's duck into that coffee place and catch up on things.”
In a few moments they were seated at a table. Fred was drinking some weird concoction he'd ordered, the name of which the parson would never be able to repeat. The parson had his regular low fat French vanilla cappuccino. Fred immediately began telling the parson about his activities over the last few years. He'd worked in social work. He'd actually been a professor. Now, he was in his first church in a neighboring state as a pastor.
“Well, I hope you're enjoying your work there, Fred. I'm glad you're serving a church.”
“Thanks, Parson, I appreciate that. Tell me, what do you think is the most important thing about being a pastor.”
The parson thought a moment; he considered Fred; he considered the kind of church Fred was appointed to. “I have to tell you, Fred, one of the hardest things for me when I started out was staying on task. There's so many things that can conflict with your work today. It's a job where you're not often accountable. I mean, you can work on a sermon for hours or you can lift one from the internet and go fishing. You can go visit a home bound member, hold her hand, look in her eyes, or you can call her on the phone while you're actually occupied with something else. Maybe, the hardest thing is concentration or staying on task.”
Fred was nodding his head in agreement, but the parson realized that Fred was looking through the window at two young ladies walking down the sidewalk. The parson stopped talking.
In a moment Fred spoke, “Oh, sorry, Parson. My mind wandered away. What were you saying?”
The parson smiled, “I was telling you a story Fred, a story about a circuit rider from long ago. He was riding his horse down a country road when he saw a farmer out working in the fields. The circuit rider called out to the farmer, 'Hello, it's a beautiful day, isn't it?'
“The farmer looked up and said, 'It may be a beautiful day for you. All you have to do is ride that horse and think about God. Me? I have to slave away in this field. It's ain't no easy task like the one you have.'
“The circuit rider replied, 'Actually, my friend, it's a lot harder than you might think to ride this horse and just think about God.'
“'I doubt that said the farmer.'
“'Tell you what,' the circuit rider replied, 'I'll give you this horse if you can think about God and nothing else for one minute beginning right now.'
“The farmer stared at the circuit rider and in less than thirty seconds said, 'Does that include the saddle?'”
Fred looked at the parson. He said, “I'm sorry, Parson, I don't get it.”