Monday, June 20, 2016

So, You Want To Be A Pastor...

So, You Want To Be A Pastor... 

One day as Jesus was walking along the shore beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers--Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew--fishing with a net, for they were commercial fishermen. 19Jesus called out to them, "Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people!" 20And they left their nets at once and went with him.Matthew 4:21-23 

There are times when I have to laugh about the position God has placed me into. Here's a guy who was after the American Dream - had a great job with one of the best companies on earth, great family, new car, new house.. etc. We had just finished a year within which we had reached a level of income we had never seen before. Our friends at church were great, the church was growing, and we were a part of it. Word within the church was I was a shoo in for deacon. 

Then God went and made me a pastor. I sure didn't see that coming, but it was clear to me and to others I trusted that God was calling me to serve His church.

Which leaves me wide open for questions like why? 

If it was in pursuit of accomplishment - well I'll have you know I had already achieved great success. 

For example, were you aware that I had sold the first full page color Pepto Bismol ad in the known world? Ha! Didn't think so. Or that I had sold 23 trucks full of Folgers coffee, marking the single biggest purchase on record for that brand? No? Well, now you know. And I hope you also know that compared to a person coming to know Christ or growing deeper in ther faith, that stuff's so lame.

If you decide to go into the ministry though, I should tell you that you'll have to learn a lot more about failure than accomplishment. And instead of trusting in your skill or passion, you'll have to learn to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit even when it seems He's nowhere to be found. Trust Him.

Now there will be times when everything goes well and people will single you out as a great pastor and leader, and then there will be times when things are running the wrong way and people look to you to make something happen and wonder if you can. But you have to know in your heart that all you've done from the very beginning is to love God, love His people, and try to give both your best. Any success has come from God and if it's dry right now, then He's still at work, just in a different way. Follow Him.

You'll have to come to grips with the knowledge that there will always be people who question your motives and wisdom. It'll happen more at first, but after almost 17 years here and over 20 years as a pastor, it still happens. Love them.

Sometimes there will be people who come but are at cross purposes with what the church is and hopes to be and that you still have to love them, but you don't have to let them have their way. In fact, you can't - because you're the pastor, and the good pastor lays down his life for the sheep. You'll pray for them, talk with them, and try to make them understand God's call on your church. Not the one across town or across the oceans. The church you serve. Stay true to that call. Follow the Holy Spirit's direction. 

Some people will leave, and you have to wish God's best for them, even if you believe they are leaving just that. Even if you've stood up for them to others. Even if you've given them your time. And then you have to believe that it is all part of God's plan and keep praying, keep loving, and keep preaching the Word. Does it hurt? Oh yes. Sometimes it rips your heart and that of your family. When you've prayed literally hours for someone and been there during some of the events of their life, it's tough. Guess it should be. If you don't care for people, don't you dare become a pastor.

There are stresses and strains in your life that no one will see. We've had to make use of the church food pantry too many times. Racing the Gulf Power cut off guy home gets old. We got really good and pinching pennies, but after over 20 years as a pastor I've never equalled what I made the year before I became one. When you get to the church on Christmas Eve, check the mailbox and find that your check has bounced, it takes a deep faith to stick that slip in your pocket and go lift people's eyes to the cross. My wife and my family have paid a price for my answering the call. It can destroy a marriage - it can ruin a life - several lives. I was blessed with a wife who has been more and done more for the churches I have served than anyone will ever know. And my sons - well I hope they saw that their Dad did his best. If money matters a lot to you, this is the wrong career field.

I have fewer years ahead than I have behind me, and I'm bivocational now instead of full time. But there's never a day that I'm not praying, not studying/ reading in some way to be a better pastor, a better communicator. I'm always looking for ways to see New Hope grow. We've tried some that did great, and some that didn't. But you have to keep trying to connect people to God and to people. It can be frustrating to have to build the consensus and gather the volunteers to get something done. But it's worth it, and there are many times that if you'll listen, some of the best ideas you will ever hear come from them.

One day I'll no longer be the pastor of a church. I'll still be God's servant, but I'll be serving in a different role. I don't know when that will be, but I know when it comes I'll be praying every day for my pastor, and seeking to do whatever I can to help him as he works for God.

Pastor - It's a hard, hard job. It's a thankless one from the world's point of view. But keep following Him. Keep loving His people.

For the knowledge that you served Jesus... now that makes it all worthwhile.

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