Posted in pastor

They’re probably talking about me.

It is once again a season of growth for our community and our congregation. So, I find myself out visiting a lot of individuals and families who have come to worship with us and expressed an interest in our church. With at least two first-time guests each week, this is keeping me pretty busy and pretty much out of trouble. For now.

In the course of conversation, folks will share their church background and experiences with me, including what their last pastor was like. Sometimes he or she was awesome. But more often than not, I hear a lot of disparaging comments about ministers and ministries. Some of the stories are unsettling, including tales of affairs, embezzlement, addiction and fraud. Others are filled with disappointment, discouragement and disgust.

These conversations always make me feel a little uncomfortable. I do not need to be reminded that every single pastor is a sinner in desperate need of grace. I already know that from personal experience and reminders from those who know me well. I also feel sad as I sit and listen. I’ve had great relationships with a lot of people in the church. I wish more had similar experiences.

The thing that occurred to me the other day was that on any given day, someone is probably talking about me that way. No, I haven’t done anything illegal. But I know I’ve angered, disappointed, aggravated, irritated, ignored, dismissed, insulted, and confused many who have come through our doors. They’re not telling their next pastor nice stories about me. I’m the one who let them down.

It’s good to keep this in mind. It’s humbling. It reminds me not to think too highly of myself. It also sternly reminds me that my self esteem is not built on the failings of others. My worth comes from Christ’s love for me.

Posted in Grace, Life, Ministry, Rant

It’s harder to come back than I thought

Ed Stetzer has written an interesting article for Q ‘How Christian Consumers Ruin Pastors and Cheat the Mission of God’. I have often struggled with those folks who simply come to church for a product or service, not unlike taking your car to an auto mechanic or hiring a contractor to work on your home. It could be a baptism, wedding, funeral,counseling or some other type of inspirational entertainment. We pastors step in it all the time, willingly providing what we think people are looking for, fearful of what will happen if we do not continually attract and retain an influx of new people at church. How effective and healthy can ministry be if that’s the model?

In retrospect, it was so good to get away to Haiti for nine days. Even though it was an intense, tiring week, the only expectation was that I be a pastor. “Do justice…love kindness…walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Help people, show compassion, pray and preach the word. No meetings, few demands, and countless opportunities to proclaim the gospel in words and actions.

You get spoiled real quick. It’s freeing to not be hounded by time and schedules. So when you get back to the real world, it’s hard — real hard — to take seriously some of the things you used to spend time and energy on. Like meetings that accomplish little if anything. Complaints and concerns about our facilities. Shopping and travel plans for Christmas. A whole bunch of people who live in tents in Haiti, including many of our friends, are now in the path of a hurricane in the Caribbean. Suddenly, it’s real hard to focus on that other stuff. And maybe that’s a good thing.