Throughout the years, I've had several occasions to serve in pastoral roles on both sides of my family -- with my extended family and with Julie's.
It's usually pretty nerve-wracking.
Why? Because the shift in roles is so dramatic. These are people who changed my diapers, wiped my tears, dealt with my various adolescent crises, and endured the sarcasm and judgmentalism of my young adulthood.
And then, years later, I stand as some kind of representative of Christ and the bible? It is, by definition, awkward when the "baby of the family" becomes the pastor to the family.
Now people on both sides (mine and Julie's) have been more than gracious.
Of course, I'm the default person to ask to give the blessing at family meals.
Most of them have heard me preach -- the first few times in front of them were for sure my most nervous times in the pulpit.
I've presided at several weddings for family members . . . and thankfully didn't forget my lines.
I've led two funerals in Texas and have seen how years of taking that ministry so seriously here in the Carolinas prepared me to lead those deeply personal events back home.
All this is on my mind today because this afternoon Julie's mother will undergo back surgery here in Charlotte. It's not life-threatening . . . but anytime you go under anesthesia there is cause for concern.
And during and after surgery, I'll have that role again. Not as surgeon, of course, but as chaplain to my in-laws.
Because when you "pastor" it means you care for souls. Even the ones closest to you.