Puppies and Ministry

This guest blog post is written by Scot McCosh.  He is a proud parent of four, the happy hubby of his favorite Pastor – Rev. Paula McCosh, and a CBF endorsed Chaplain in the US Army Reserves, as well as serving as the Pastor of Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC.  He loves sports and believes the streets of gold in heaven will be paved with peanut butter. 

I have a new puppy. In fact he’s asleep on the floor of my office as I type this post. I’d love to say that I was overjoyed at the thought of adding him to our family, but in reality I wasn’t sure that I was ready for another pup. I was out of town for a couple of weeks teaching a class and received the call that our 9 yr. old dog, who had faithfully transitioned with us into four different houses, had grown up with our 17 yr. old and been a source of comfort to our foster sons, had been hit by a car. I had gotten used to the old guy who couldn’t run and play like he once did, but was predictable, faithful and loving. My kids were immediately on me about a new puppy. I was the old grumpy guy that said no way! Then a friend pulled me aside and reminded me that at some point I’d give in and get a new puppy anyway, so why not do so now? I returned home for the weekend and we picked up Shadow, a 7 week old ball of energy. The little fur ball has stolen my heart. He loves to be held and pet. He graciously gives his doggy kisses and shares his puppy breath. He runs freely, jumping for joy if you throw the ball with him. He is so much fun! I needed this little guy, because not only has he brought energy, healing, joy and fun – but he’s given me some new perspective.

You see puppies don’t know what they don’t know. So they chew on everything until you set some boundaries for them. They leave their little warm packages of mess everywhere, until you teach them the proper place to poo. They offer cuddles and puddles freely, and at times both at the same time. Yet, their unbridled curiosity, their gentle, playful demeanors and their desire for care and affection remind me of what pastoral ministry is all about – and why having children and youth around is absolutely wonderful. They are like puppies (don’t tell your youth group I said that!).

I wouldn’t have traded my old dog for anything. We had too many shared moments and memories, but we’d both gotten a bit sedentary and risk averse. But sedentary and risk averse aren’t even on the radar with puppies. They run, jump and play into life – things we as the people of God need to be reminded to do, no matter what stage of life we’re in currently. My little pup’s energy is contagious – and so is the unbridled energy of the youth of our church. They aren’t afraid to ask tough questions, engage current culture or poke fun at the senior adults. Yes, sometimes they metaphorically poo in the wrong place, or leave puddles behind, but they also bring fresh new life – and a need for care and affection into a faith family that needs to embrace them. We sometimes see them as “chewing” on the wrong stuff, but then realize that in so doing they are cutting their teeth into some deeper endeavors than we ever dared to chomp. Yes, we all need some intergenerational time – some time to play with the puppies.