From the start of our journey together, Kathleen and I have shared a common view of the pastorate and how a pastor should apply himself to his work. We both had strong work ethics. Recently an incident from those early days came to mind that we have both chuckled over occasionally and think worth sharing.
In August 1974, we had left a busy pastorate in Greenville, Illinois, to move to Canada. I had just been elected as one of five bishops of the Free Methodist Church of North America with special assignment to give onsite leadership to our conferences in Canada, and we were getting settled in Toronto.
Church leaders here had bought a commodious house in Toronto and because the assignment was new I was setting up my office in the basement until such time as we were able to acquire a building as a Ministries Center. The finished basement was large enough to meet this need adequately.
First, the house had to be put in order, furniture properly placed, kitchen set up, curtains hung, pictures arranged, and Kathleen had to care for dozens of little details to make the place both pleasantly livable and at the same time suitable as a semipublic building.
At the same time, I had to start by moving in some office furniture, having bookcases built, getting a telephone installed, ordering stationery, making arrangements in a separate room for a secretary, and otherwise caring for the myriad of little details that go with starting an office from zero.
My work as overseer also began immediately, which meant alternating times of being at home and on the road.
We addressed our tasks with energy. Sometimes we worked separately, sometimes together, and every now and then we dropped what we were doing in house and headed out to make some purchase or acquire some service. At the same time, very soon after arriving we began visiting churches where I was to speak on weekends.
After a week or so at this, Kathleen sometimes came down to my room to ask for help with some chore that needed attention. By then I was getting settled into a demanding routine, so on one such occasion I explained to her that we should think of me as though I were on duty in an office 20 miles across the city, just as any lay person might be. It should assumed that I was at the office or out of town during working hours, and we needed to save various chores for free evenings or off-hours.
She saw the sense of that idea immediately and agreed. So we went about our tasks, she continuing to add the touches that make a house a home — painting this room, scrubbing there, cleaning windows, organizing drawers, setting out knick knacks. At the same time, I began to immerse myself in my new assignment: getting acquainted with a new constituency, communicating by telephone or mail, working with superintendents, receiving visitors, and attending to new situations needing attention near and far.
The plan she and I had agreed upon worked fine, but she added a pleasant, even a surprising wrinkle to it. After our breakfast together, at 8 a.m. I would stand at the top of the stairs and say, “I am going to work now,” and she would come running to kiss me goodbye. We laughed over it then; and now, thirty-five years later, we still chuckle when that work-a-day formality comes to mind.