THE PASTOR’s PEN October 21, 2018
Dear Church Family and Friends,
Ever ponder or think about what it is like to be your pastor? Ever wondered what he and his family go through each and every week? I am sure you have probably heard the old say, “if every church member was just like me, What kind of church would my church be?” Have you ever thought of it this way. If every member of my church interacted with our pastor just like me, what kind of pastor would our pastor be? You see if you have ever pondered the life of your pastor, I would assure you it is probably not as easy as you think to be a pastor.
The truth is, there are a lot of things pastors feel pressured to be and do. As pastors, we sometimes do dumb things. And yes even pastors have demons we are constantly fighting. On top of this, we visit in the community, visit folks who are sick, volunteer in the community to extend the ministry of the church, care for shut ins, make hospital visits for the church and the community, visit the funeral homes, a lot. And prepare approximately three sermons each week and speak or teach within the community when given opportunity, again to expand the ministry of the church and reach people for Christ. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, we are expected to attend every church function of every Sunday School Class, Discipleship Training Class, Other church groups and ministries. Don’t get me wrong, We love these things, but I hope you get the picture, it can become overwhelming at times.
October is “Pastor Appreciation Month” each year. I can tell you, I am blessed! I am privileged to pastor Henards Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. It is not always easy, but you as a congregation have blessed me in ways no other group of people have or could. Your love and support of me, my family and this church are vital; and GREATLY APPRECIATED!
When pastors deal with discouragement and frustrations, it is often the thoughts of the good times with the loving supporting members of their congregation that see them through. You say, “you mean pastors fight demons, get discouraged and need prayers more than criticism?” the answer is a great big YES!
You see, pastors are unified in a commitment to share the gospel, but they also share another trait—most work demanding schedules. A recent survey found 8 out of 10 pastors say they’re on call 24 hours a day and more than half report they frequently find their role as a pastor overwhelming. It is often hard to give oneself, as a pastor, the permission to be human. Pastors themselves and people often place unrealistic expectation on pastors.
At times, pastors are expected to be experts on everything. Congregants often expect their pastors to be theological sages—leaders who can speak wisdom into every life situation or area of concern brought up by a church member or guest.
But while pastors are certainly called to exhibit knowledge and wisdom, Scripture never asks them to be experts in all things.
In the kingdom of God, there’s only One who’s an expert on everything. It’s to the glory of God that person isn’t the pastor (Proverbs 25:2).
In today’s world flooded with social media, pastors are expected to build great followings and platforms. There are pastors who are not computer geeks and have no real interest in becoming one. However some pastors pressure themselves as well as some congregants pressure the pastor to be viral on social media.
And even pastors who are not pressuring themselves by the number of followers they boast, pressure themselves and are pressured in other ways.
Pastors who aren’t digital natives also run the risk of platform allure—equating their worth to statistics such as weekly church attendance, the square footage of their facility, or even the amount of baptisms they’ve conducted or the number of churches they’ve planted.
While keeping an eye on metrics is important for measuring ministry goals, it’s also an easy way to drift into idolatry and a misguided identity.
Then as pastors we often feel obligated to do everything with excellence. Scripture passages like 1 Corinthians 10:31 call for Christians to do all things to the glory of God. However, this doesn’t mean pastors must do all things well.
Human frailty actually demands that pastors be lousy at certain pursuits—even good ones—in order to better invest in what’s most excellent at the current time.
The lie Satan told in the Garden of Eden—“you can be like God”—is the same one that propagates the need for perfection. Christ would rather pastors humbly admit they’re not God, and thus, can’t do all things well at the same time.
Wisely embracing limitations allows pastors to determine where they want to strive for excellence and where they’re content to be lousy for the sake of God’s glory.
These expectations are real and as pastors we struggle with them all the time and many more. Maybe it would be good for you and yes, even your pastor himself to take a look at the expectations you hold and ask yourself truly, are they reasonable.
Then there are the demons we as pastors fight. To stay in the ministry any length of time, a pastor needs to learn to fight some predictable demons.
For instance, Monday mornings for pastors and spiritual leaders are unique. They bring with them an adrenaline crash that feels like you got hit by a train (emotionally) during the night. Sunday’s expenditure of energy—physically, spiritually, emotionally and relationally—lands on Monday morning with reflections that are both good and bad, positive and negative.
It is sort of like the super model who thinks she is ugly and never pretty enough and always pointing out the things about herself and her body she does not like. These hard hitting thoughts that battle in our minds as pastors seem to effect all of us, event he ones who are doing really well in ministry pastoring big churches doing “great things.” We fight things like…
Inspection—We try to look at our daily work and see fruit. It’s never as visible up close as it is looking back over many years.
Introspection—This is deeper than “inspection” in that it begins to question the validity of our work and ministry. We start to entertain questions like: “Am I doing the right thing?” “Does anything I’m doing make any difference?” “Is there any growth from my preaching and preparation?” Introspection becomes… (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Deception—If I entertain the doubts for very long, they become accusations and lies. They begin to feel substantive. The doubts begin to set, like drying concrete—they metastasize into hardened, heart-shaping conclusions like, “I am failing. I am not effective. I should quit now. I should try something else.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Expectation—This is the parent of ministry disappointment. Expectation is “what I thought God would do” or “what I thought I deserved” or “how I pictured everything unfolding.” Expectations unrealized give birth to disappointment and despair.
Isolation—All of these previous experiences mount up internally to assault the soul, and the typical response is isolation. This is where I go when all the other demons begin to get the best of me.
This is often the one big mistake we make as pastors. As I look back over my 43 years in ministry, I realize I repeatedly made this one really dumb mistake in the relationship area.
I hid out.
I don’t mean that I intentionally hid from people. But I isolated myself too much.
For example, it is easy to hid out in the office seldom coming out. It is easy to isolate ones self by staying in the office until right before service starts.
As pastors, we are busy, but we want to and need to feel a connection with our people.
Condemnation—Once isolated, Satan is relentless in accusations—again, all unfolding in a silent, internal conversation in first person. “I’m a failure.” Bear in mind, highly successful, highly fruitful, long-faithful pastors experience these internal accusations on a regular basis—which should unveil to us the deceptive spiritual warfare that’s really going on here.
Comparison—There’s always someone seemingly doing better than I am—someone who appears to be more (fill in the blank…). We lose sight of the blessings of our lives and begin to perceive another’s blessings as better or bigger—always a lie, always discouraging. There’s no winning a comparison game.
Cynicism—Comparison fuels cynicism. We are all susceptible to developing cynical or scornful hearts toward others, ourselves, and toward life or ministry in general. Past hurts, disappointments, betrayals or bitterness can devolve into scorn and anger toward anything or anyone that reminds me of “what bothers me.” In my opinion, a cynical heart is among the deadliest poisons to true and lasting Christian joy.
It’s a daily battle!
This may all sound sappy, but I prefer to live with joy than bitterness. I want to crush these demons every day and to live in the light of hope and faith. These “demons” are real, but Jesus is greater!
And try as I may to overcome all this, sometimes I fail! And so do all pastors. That is why we desperately need your prayers. Pastors may appear as though they are so strong they do not need prayer. But I can assure you, any pastor genuinely called to the ministry knows he needs prayer; earnest, passionate and effective prayer. “Pray for me” should be the number one personal request from a pastor of the church he serves. The best way to show your appreciation to your pastor is to encourage him and his family and let them know when and how you are praying for them. How do you pray for your pastor? Well here are just a few ideas.
Let me first say, pray for your pastor like Paul encouraged the church at Colossae. I would encourage you to pray based on Colossians 1:9-12.
Pray that your pastor would…
1. Filled with the knowledge of God’s will.
2. Filled with all spiritual wisdom.
3. Filled with spiritual understanding.
4. Walk worthy of the Lord.
5. Strengthened with God’s power.
If you will pray for your pastor in this way, you might just find you have a new and better pastor. And I know he will appreciate the help and encouragement. Believe me, he needs it.
Now here is the Bible Quest for the week.
143. “You have plowed wickedness,” says Hosea, “ye have reaped ….
A. virtue; B. evil; C. iniquity; D. equity
144. “My name is Legion; for we are many,” referred to …
A. the disciples; B. the unclean spirits and the man who harbored them;
C. the lepers in the leper colony; D. the crowd to whom Jesus spoke by the sea
145. His servant succeeded in keeping the old King David warm by…
A. covering him with cloth; B. bringing a fair virgin to lie with him;
C. exciting him with news of Adonijah; D. crowding his room with people
146. In his second letter, Peter explains that the prophecies of scripture are a matter of private interpretation …
A. never; B. always; C. rarely; D. often
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