I am a reluctant follower. My past experience and upbringing without a father, quite distant mother, and way too much freedom has made it hard for me to overcome a radical independence. And I have a nearly lethal measure of confidence. (Remember that pride is a sin and sin leads to death…)
Eugene Peterson has become somewhat of a mentor through his writings. Currently, I am rereading his memoirs with Ben Wainwright (our Youth Pastor Intern). The next chapter is: “Invisible Six Days a Week and Incomprehensible the Seventh”. The chapter titles comes from a quote by a Scottish preacher from the highlands who described his pastoral experience with this phrase.
Being a pastor is not merely difficult, but it is quite often misunderstood. Most people have some notion that the role includes preparing a sermon for Sunday. And beyond that the point of the role gets lost and muddied by 1000 different expectations, agendas, and mostly CEO type administrative imaginations.
I don’t write this because I want to be understood, though I do. I am writing this blog to ask for your prayers!
My goal as a pastor is to reflect a pursuit of God in our current cultural moment. And just like you, the moment works me over at times. This moment in which we live is hard. So many marriages are suffering. So many people are beat up by their sin. So many people are spiritually confused and ready to throw in the towel. So many people have honed their ability to vent and complain over the past couple of years. And as a pastor, I am also tempted in all these ways, while trying to lead in prayer, lead in trusting God’s Word, and lead in spiritual direction.
The shepherd metaphor works great on this front. Shepherding amounts to caring for others, serving the sheep, and leading them to food and water and protecting them from predators. But imagine that the landscape has shifted significantly. The pandemic has been like a landscape-altering earthquake. The water is still there, but the pathway to it is strewn with new boulders and cliffs to work around. The fear of persecution is increases as the howls of wolves sound closer and closer. And I observe that the sheep themselves are just weaker and more skittish.
If you have a good pastor, he is praying for you. He cares about your spirit, your heart, and your health. Would you pray for him too? Every pastor will be deeply encouraged by your prayers for THEM!
There is an old song by the Newsboys that dates back to the 1990’s. I listen to it when I am going through a hard time as a pastor. And it reminds me of the value of prayer.
The title of the song is “When You Called My Name”
The lyrics go like this:
How many times have I been lifted from despair by the prayers of someone? Often. Frequently. Regularly.
Do I feel invisible? Often. Especially when someone asks me what I do and I kill the conversation by telling them I’m a pastor.
Do I feel Incomprehensible? Often. I can feel quite frequently like I am not doing justice to the glorious Word. And I can feel frequently like I am the only one who recognizes that this Word is glorious!
If this blog comes off as whining, then ignore it. But as a man with a strong-desire for self-sufficiency and a struggle with over-confidence, I am asking for prayer. God IS sustaining me so I can only assume someone must already be praying. I am still excited about this calling. But I also acknowledge that it is often the prayers of others that keeps me from despair.