Wednesday, August 25, 2010
They Call It Stormy Monday, But Tuesday's Just As Bad
It usually starts Monday morning, or what we preacher-creatures know as (pick your poison) - Monday Blues, Sunday Hangover, Resignation Day, or Remind Me Why I Do This Day. It is the day when most of us who are placed in the role of a pastor should probably just get busy working and let the day before go. And yet helping out in God's vineyard isn't a one time event, but a collection of moments, of days, weeks, and months. You get to see people's spiritual life begin in a struggle, releasing into the joy of growth, and you are there when they are experiencing the droughts and troubles of life. And your quest is to help as they reach out to God in trust for His provision, His direction, His peace.
So every Monday you check to see how the vineyard is doing.(If you can wait that long. Sometimes it starts at 12:15 Sunday afternoon)
If you do it as someone who is a worker in God's vineyard, it can be very helpful. There are victories to celebrate as you see new growth appear or old vines seem to find new life. When fruit appears you rejoice in knowing that God is at work and you got to see it. If something has damaged the vine or limited its growth, you get to work doing what you can do, always under the direction of the Master Gardener. In the long term view of a worker in God's vineyard, you know that it's all working together for good - for God's glory.
However if you allow yourself to sink into feeling like it all depends on you, then your trip through the vineyard can be one of the most destructive things you can do. This is not your church - it is God's church. You didn't produce the growth when it grew - God did. And while you might have had a bad day with the sermon, or said the wrong thing,or failed in some other way, God is still at work. You know that. You believe that. It's a conviction of yours. But your weakness can make you blind.
I've been blind so often over the last couple of years it isn't funny. I have an enormous capacity for letting both outward signs of success and outward signs of failure affect my mood and outlook. Makes me sick when I catch myself doing it. You'd think after being here all these years I would realize that smaller churches go through ebbs and flows. I do understand. And yet I still get wrapped up in the emotion of it all. When things are going great, I'm really happy about what I do and see unlimited opportunities for New Hope to do beautiful things for God. On the blue Monday's... not so much. You can take the smallest hiccup and have it overshadow everything or take a big win and turn it into a "yeah, but we didn't...." where "didn't" can be anything from "greet the new family in the parking lot", to "start on time."
My pastor friends know what I'm talking about here. You want it SO BAD. It happens SO SLOW. You invest your life into people and give them unlimited access and your unceasing prayers and love - and they leave or you see them so irregularly... you think "there must have been something I could have done." Well, what if there wasn't? What if you couldn't have? But you can't see it objectively, so discouragement creeps in.
As the song I linked to above says "They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday's just as bad" - that attitude can follow you all week - for weeks - even months.
And yet, if you look - if you clear your mind and open your heart and let God be God - the job of a pastor is the greatest job in the world.
God makes it all worthwhile.
Because He loves us.
Because He is faithful.
Because He's working it all together for His glory and we get to be a part of that.
Ronald Reagan once said that "the majority of the world wonders if what they are doing matters - the Marines don't have that problem." Well pastors and friends - partners in the work of God - we shouldn't have that problem either.
Would you take a minute every day and pray for your pastor(s)? Pray that God would give them the ability to see as He sees, love as He loves, and live as Jesus lived.