Can a pastor call in sick on the one day a week he works?

We have our pastor’s retreat this weekend, so we’ll all be absent from church on Sunday morning. We’re hiding away in an undisclosed location, sort of like Camp David, since we’re like the President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, and Secretary of State all in one place. (I’m not sure if I’m remembering my civics correctly and the order of succession.)

Except for vacation or church-related trips or the occasional weather cancelation, I haven’t missed a Sunday morning as long as I’ve served on staff at a church. I’m not saying skipping worship services from time to time is a bad thing. I wouldn’t mind sleeping in myself. Maybe hang out with the “sweaty heathens” (as John Acuff calls them) at Sunday brunch. Why does French toast taste sweeter when you’re skipping church? I imagine for the same reason sin feels good at first. That maple syrup goes down smooth, but it’ll turn to wormwood when it hits your stomach.

Personally, I’d love an evening service and not have to wake up at 5:30 on a Sunday ever again. Alas, we’re stuck with our Sunday morning tradition—for now.

In my 15 years or so of church ministry, I’ve rarely been sick on a Sunday. That’s something like 800 Sundays. That doesn’t mean I’ve always been 100%. There’ve been weeks I could hardly sing, but I showed up. There was my name on the lineup card. I’m like the Cal Ripken of worship leaders. I should get a gold star or a bigger mansion in heaven, one with an awesome music room.

I have a friend who played in my band for a few years before I moved from Toledo. An amazing musician, Rick has been playing electric guitar for about 30 years and has played countless gigs. He’d get frustrated with some of the younger musicians in our worship band, those who’d so quickly call in sick. He always said being sick wasn’t enough. If you were going to miss a gig, you’d better have more than a doctor’s note. You’d need a note from the morgue.

Eaton Church family, though I won’t have a death certificate, I’ll have a note from my pastor. We’ll all be safely sequestered at a farmhouse somewhere in the Midwest, sort of like in Guarding Tess. You have some great musicians leading you this weekend. I’ll be thinking of you as I eat my sweaty heathen, southwestern omelet.

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