If you’re a pastor, the title of this post brings to mind many ideas. Things like, “I resign from my ministry every Monday morning.” Or maybe something like, “I’m exhausted and just don’t have the energy to answer another email, text message, phone call, or instant messenger.”
I don’t know what it brings to mind if you’re not a pastor because I have been one for so long I have forgotten what it feels like. I began my professional career in pastoral care as a youth minister in about 1990, so about 28 years ago I began this journey. These are simply my thoughts as I reflect on the past several days and where I am right now.
‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 13:35
A shepherd after God’s own heart. That is who I strive to be. A shepherd who loves his sheep. A shepherd who digs and prepares to be able to plant seed and then reap a harvest in order to feed the sheep of his pasture. This calling is in my opinion the highest calling in the known universe. I get to spend time with, and listen to, and speak on behalf of God to people who are in all different stages of their lives. On Sunday mornings I get to speak to the flock as a whole, the ones who come to eat. On Wednesday evenings I get to spend time with a few who want more. But on a daily basis I get to interact with the many who for various reasons don’t want their concerns aired in public. Each week I speak with, listen to, and speak on behalf of God to literally hundreds of messages that are sent to me privately by the people in the churches I serve, to people in other parts of the Country, and even to people in other parts of the world.
I just had the privilege of speaking for the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church and through meeting people there and hearing their heart I have made new friends and I am now in conversation with them about their concerns and joys as well. It is a big world and with the technology available to us today we have the ability to connect with a large number of people.
Last week is now a blur. It’s Monday and I have new sermons to write, new Bible studies to prepare for, and new messages from people to respond to and interact with. I have church family in various hospitals and rest homes,and I received a letter this morning from an inmate who is looking for a friend who will speak life into him and others who find themselves incarcerated and feeling lost without hope. I have baptisms to prepare for, meetings to attend, and couples to counsel. I have single moms and dads reaching out who need jobs, places to live, and advice, and I have those who are hidden in addictions and desperately want to be free. I have a mission trip to attend to and I have a men’s retreat to prepare for.
I have a family who calls me husband and one who calls me son. I have children who call me daddy and I have grandchildren who call me Pupa. I have tenants who call me landlord and I have close friends who call me often. I am a blessed man…
But lest I forget, I have a Father who calls me to His side. He calls me to listen and He calls me to obey. He calls me to know that above all the noise that I am loved and that I am valuable and that I am someone special. And He reminds me that if it were not for Him and if it were not for spending time with Him, and if it were not for knowing that I can do nothing without Him and with Him I can do all things that I would go totally insane. He teaches me to filter the noise and listen for Him. He teaches me that I can do this another week and not just survive but I can thrive. He teaches me that so that I can teach the same to the flock He has trusted me with.
So my thoughts as a pastor on Monday…
I don’t have to do anything. As a matter of fact I could throw my hands up and say I quit, but that isn’t going to happen because I’m not a quitter.
I get to take our children and grandchildren to school today. I get to mow the grass today. I get to deliver Bible study material to the flock today. I get to interact with many people today who will send me messages who are in distress and ready to give up on life. I get to write a letter to an inmate today and share the hope that I have in Jesus and that he can have that same hope and that God is a God of 2nd, 3rd, and who am I kidding, unending chances. I get to blog my thoughts today in hopes that some other pastors who are feeling discouraged will read and be encouraged. I get to start preparing for next Sunday’s sermon. I get to be with my wife, my mom, my children, and my grandchildren. I get to live life to the fullest.
As long as I remember why I do what I do. Then I will remember to enjoy the journey and I will remember that when I get tired I need to come aside and sit with Him for a while to be reminded.