Pastors are human.
If you’ve known one for any length of time, you’ve realized this is all too true. I got another lesson in my own limitations this past weekend.
This weekend was fantastic because:
- I got to baptize twin girls who made a deep commitment to Christ just months before they go off to college.
- Worship and the message were off the charts. The hope and help of Jesus Christ flooded the church.
- Generous donations funded “The Big Give”. We get to feed 30+ families for a month!
- I met a woman who attended church for the first time in her life. (and liked it)
- A woman I invited, who is new to the area, attended for the first time, and is planning on coming back.
These things fire me up! They are the “wins” that cause us to celebrate. But…
This weekend was tough because:
- I learned that 4 couples I know and love are either divorcing or are under extreme duress.
- Two of my friends who are hurting deeply won’t return my calls.
- Others that I care about are missing from church, failing in faith, or running from God.
This stark contrast is what I see week in and week out. Being a pastor puts me at the crossroads of peoples’ lives. I get the privilege of sharing profound joy and deep sorrow with many.
The joys buoy me. They fill me with energy. I love nothing more than to share the fullness of Jesus Christ with families and see Him supply healing and wholeness. It’s fun. And it’s what I was called to do as a pastor.
But pastors are also called to “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). Sometimes, since we live in a fallen and broken world, there is chaos and destruction. Pastors are called to meet people there too. That’s less fun. But it’s still a privilege.
This weekend I was reminded once more that I am finite.
I resonated with Paul’s words. When describing his trials as a man spreading the Gospel he said,
Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:28)
Every pastor understands that burden. Heck, every Christian who cares for others understands it. We want God’s best for the people He has put within our reach. But even though He has won the war, the enemy often steals a battle here and there. Witnessing others hurt makes a man weary.
Bottom line: I left church yesterday feeling 1,000 pounds heavier than when I walked in.
Throughout the day I had “accumulated” concerns and burdens for those I love and care about. It’s weeks like these that I understand why Jesus was called, “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53:3)
It’s Him that I need.
This Jesus, this God, eternally existing in perfection, took on the form of man and entered this mucked up world we live in. He lived and walked among the broken. Love poured out of every pore of his body. When he looked upon the city that would soon crucify him, he didn’t shy away. Instead…
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
This Jesus is the only hope for all the people I am concerned about. He is the only one who can truly and completely help and heal their hearts and lives. He’s also the only hope for me.
Here’s my conclusion: I was never designed to carry all these burdens. I cannot. I am too weak to even bear my own.
Yes, I get to come alongside many who are hurting, and I will continue to. But the distinguishing factor that makes me effective as a minister of the Gospel is that I myself am not what they need. He is. I get to walk alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ. But my main goal must always be to point them to Him. To carry them, if need be, to the Savior who holds in His hands infinite mercy, grace and compassion for the ones He came to save.
And after leading the way to Him, after exhausting my own feeble resources, I must routinely heed Jesus’ words:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
I will. I must. This Jesus is my only hope.