Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Spoiled Lot

Recent news: pastors resigning from burn out, moral failure, conflicts and personal blunders in leadership, etc.

Because ministry is hard. Because we all struggle, but pastors struggle more, and they can’t ever admit it. Because vocational ministry is tough on marriage and family, and publishing books takes so much out of us and multiple services beat us down and leave us lonely and exhausted. Yeah, yeah.

Been there, done that. Sorry for my lack of compassion. But I’ve got a beef about all that—and I’m going to say it, once, here, then not bring it up again.

I’m tired of the whimpy, life-is-so-hard-in-ministry, self-pitying complaining I hear a lot from vocational pastors.

I was there. I spent 23 years in full-time pastoral ministry. I was ready at any time to tell people how hard it was, how burdened, how consuming, and how privileged I was to be called.

And it WAS hard. I don’t want to minimize that reality.

But in other ways, I had it EASY! And so do all of you in pastoral ministry. Well, most of you.

I had control of my own schedule. I could cut out time for whatever I thought was important. I could meet, study, plan, retreat, confer, and write AT WILL. And if I was having a hard day, I could call my secretary and say, “Cancel my appointments and hold my calls. I need time away.” And the church gave it to me. They loved me. They wanted me to succeed as a pastor in every way. I had real support. I don’t have any of that now. I’m at work, on a clock. I can’t just shut my door and study. I have a real job. Boy, was I spoiled.

I had budget to buy books. Fly to conferences. Take mission trips. Speak at retreats. Eat meals with people and buy THEM books. I had a comfortable office in which I hung up my collection of vintage fly rods because they made good conversation starters. I could play music while I worked, and I could take time to stop and talk to anyone who dropped by, and could even meet with people on the golf course. Can’t do that now. I don’t even have room in my house to shelve all the books I collected, and I don’t have time to read them.

Back then I could take time to study, hours if necessary, ON A SINGLE WORD. Not now. I’m doing well to have time in the Word every day. Like I said, I was SPOILED! I would love to have unfettered time to study, time to prepare, time to pray. REAL time to pray.

Yes, dimensions of ministry were difficult. But to be honest, not THAT difficult all the time. Sure, moments of tears and heartache, but days filled with the glorious privilege of seeing God at work in the lives of people. What wonderful days those were.

Pastors, quit complaining. You’re blessed beyond measure. Maybe if you start seeing things that way, you’ll stop burning out.