In the long run, I contribute to the church most by being a man with a good marriage and a reasonably healthy family.
—Ben Patterson

You might call it cruising or hanging out. In my family we call it "oozing": nothing in particular to do, everything in general, whenever we feel like it, if we do. It's the polar opposite of the way the rest of our lives are lived.

Some people complain when they have nothing to do. We rejoice. With G. K. Chesterton, we never have enough of nothing to do. The Pattersons love to ooze. We hoard like hidden treasure those days when we can just watch television, start reading but never finish four or five books and a dozen magazines, walk aimlessly around town, or talk and drink coffee till we're giddy with caffeine.

Recently my wife, Lauretta, went to visit her family in Minnesota for a week. She took along our daughter, Mary, and left the boys and me to fend for ourselves. So, we oozed for the whole week, consuming junk food and renting videos every day. I even cleared my afternoons; every day after school, I welcomed my boys at the door.

The church, however, also anticipated our week of bachelorhood. We received numerous dinner invitations, as the ladies of our church looked to mother us with their chicken dinners. It was a wonderful gesture; I guess they thought we'd starve. But micro-waved burritos and pepperoni pizza sounded just fine to us. So as tactfully as I could, I refused their generosity, explaining vaguely that we had other plans—plans to ooze with the guys!

Juggling church, family, and personal time is a nagging source of tension for pastors. Our culture organizes around the weekend, but weekends for the minister are work days. On top of that, our weekdays don't end at five o'clock. ...

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