It is that time of year when it would normally come in the mail; that time of the year, when I would normally take an hour and start to pencil things in for the new year. And yet word was received recently through social media that this year that would not be the case. The Thrivent Pastor’s Desk Diary, a free resource sent out to all pastors for years, is being discontinued.
Why? You could blame Thrivent for canceling yet another popular resource in the name of profits, not to mention abandoning their Lutheran roots as they become more and more secular. But the answer also is largely based in technology, that more and more pastors are using their phones and Ipads to schedule their appointments, plan their services, and chart their activities.
I remember getting a calendar one year growing up; somehow my dad got one, and he gave it to me. I was amazed at such a thing, and perplexed at its design, but at the same time mesmerized by its deep red cover with sharp gold print.
On vicarage, my supervisor had a small cabinet, that contained 15 or more desk diary’s that he had used over the years of his ministry. I saw them a few time, and thought of them as the record of a pastor’s faithful service to a congregation.
I have been building my own such collection over the years, now totaling 9. They sit in their own designated spot in the office, serving as a daily diary of all the visits and meetings and interactions that occur day in and day out.
Sadly, there will be no new addition this year; at least not of the Thrivent variety. The current version as it turns out is the last version.
At the announcement there were more than a few who grieved; more than a few who lamented that the October tradition of beginning to fill in the new calendar with the standing dates and the long range plans would not be occurring.
Many others responded, in their own helpful way, that those seeking new means to schedule, should consider one or more of the electronic versions available. I am sure the electronic versions are nice, with there drop down tabs and different columns that neatly portray visits made in their proper time blocks.
And yet for many of us, the electronic will never replace the paper desk calendar, and perhaps for a reason that is being overlooked. The paper desk calendar is perhaps the only way to show the business of the life of a pastor. The crossed out meeting that had to be moved to another night; the youth Bible study that had to be rescheduled; the family night out that had to be postponed because of the funeral; the vacation that has been blocked out in an effort to regroup and recharge. The shut-in visits that took more than a few afternoons; the meetings that seemed to take every night.
Drop down tabs and delete buttons do not show that. The electronic can make life so much simpler and so much cleaner; and for record keeping that may in fact help; but if you want to see what a pastor’s life looks like, look at the paper desk calendar, for that will truly tell the tale.
Farewell Pastor’s Desk Diary. You have served the Church well. Others will indeed try to replace you, and I have already ordered one myself; but the telltale sign of a Lutheran pastor was always the deep red cover and gold print of the desk diary, and that is no more.