Oct. 21-27 is Pastoral Care Week, a time to recognize - and thank - those persons who offer pastoral care to all of us.
During this week particularly, organizations and institutions throughout the world will recognize the spiritual care given through professional chaplaincy and pastoral counseling within our communities. Chaplains, pastoral care counselors, educators and care providers for all faiths and spiritualities will share in this year's theme, "Giving Voice".
Regardless of faith tradition, whether clergy or not, Pastoral Care Week celebrates those who provide spiritual counseling to others in specialized settings such as hospitals, prisons, businesses, industries, long-term care facilities, pastoral counseling centers, hospices, military settings, nursing homes, corporations, congregations of sisters, priests and brothers, schools and universities throughout the world.
This is probably as good of an opportunity as any to talk about the burden society places on its pastors and their families.
And that is the burden of an expectance of perfection.
And what does that mean?
It means that we expect our pastors and their families to be without blemish or fault, to be not only God's ambassadors but also be and act in the image of God.
And reality is that such an expectation is far too much for any human to bear.
Pastors and their families are indeed human. They have the same temptations, sins and, yes, failings that we do. When we expect our pastors - and their families - to be perfect, and when they do have problems, they have nowhere to turn.
When was the last time you asked your pastor or even a pastor you knew casually how it was going - and really meant it. When was the last time you offered a broad shoulder for your pastor to cry on, or opened your heart and mind so your pastor could say what he or she felt - without fear that it would be a piece of community gossip.
Yes, pastors are human. And they have the same human wants and needs that we do.
So this week, and every week that you can, try to return the favor. Care for your pastor.
It's the human thing to do.