Mitch Albom wrote a novel (which I have yet to read) called The Five People You Meet in Heaven. In it, the protagonist character Eddie dies suddenly and meets the five people who had the most impact on his life, whether he knew it or not.
I was thinking about that today along with the fact that there are people with whom we all struggle (clergy are no different than anyone else on this). What if the five you meet in heaven are the five you would have rather not been with here on earth? You know, those folks that you somehow end up in relationship with but ones you wouldn't have chosen if it were up to you: maybe it's a family member, or an in-law, or a coworker, or a member of your faith community, or someone in the neighborhood.
I have a personal prayer list of people I'm intentionally praying for each day. I realized this morning that the folks with whom I struggle most need to be at the top of my prayer list. Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. I wouldn't say I have enemies (that seems a bit strong), but there are folks I with whom I have difficulty. It would be easier to ignore them and not pray for them. But that isn't what Jesus told us to do.
So I'm changing my prayer routine. When I open my list up, I'll start with the folks I'm struggling with ... they are my new "top five." That way, if they are the ones I'm going to end up meeting, I won't have to apologize for ignoring them!