I read this article. I wondered if it could be true. I would love it if you read it, too.
From Pete Scazzero’s blog…quoting Gordon MacDonald. I read it and think, “This is me.” Perhaps another season of ministry life. I started ministry as a young man and became so accustomed to telling myself “Let no one look down on your youth.” It is startling to wake up one day and realize that is no longer the case.
“You can anticipate when younger people begin asking you questions they ask a mother or father. If you are over 50, the needle of your ministry life will move from programs to people. Focus your life on being a spiritual mother/father to younger people.”
I’ve been a senior pastor for almost 25 years. One thing I have realized is that people often have difficulty seeing past the office/position to the person. I share this on my blog because it is good… really good. All of these things do not fit me but enough do that I thought I would share it, hoping that it will help you get to know me better.
Here are a few highlights from the list:
“People tell the senior pastor all kinds of things about what is happening in their life or in the lives of others…many we would rather not know sometimes…and sometimes the weight of others’ problems we carry is enormous.” I do not think pastors mind being counsellors and confidantes. Just know that when we walk with you through your crisis — and yours is resolved — we then will walk with someone else through their crisis. There is rarely a reprieve from this cycle.
“We seldom know who we can trust, which is why we become guarded and appear hard to get to know. Most senior pastors have been burned by someone they once trusted.” I shared this list with my staff here at HBC, and one of them asked me why pastors have more trust issues than other professions. I do not know that we do. Nor do I believe that senior pastors have it harder than anyone else. But I do wonder if pastors are more inclined to think the best of people. We do not always pick up on warning signals. Perhaps we have occupational naiveté… which only years of experience can cure. Unfortunately, I am cured.
“Our spouse is sometimes the loneliest person in the church.” Most people are shocked by this. She knows everyone. She is outgoing. She seems to have lots of friends. So, why does she so often sit by herself while her husband is preaching? I’ve always wished for, but do not know how to ask for, some ladies to make it their “mission” on Sunday morning not to let my wife sit alone.
I love being a pastor. I am blessed to serve a great church, a healthy church, with the greatest people. These things do not reflect on a church…they are just occupational hazards.
So, submitted for your consideration. Shared for the sake of… vulnerability. Thanks, Ron, for a great article.
I had coffee this morning with a good friend. I love to do this. He is a sharp businessman and full of leadership wisdom. He told me that he had faced many things that would make others give up, but the key to his success is persistence. He will not quit.
I believe this to be a trait of any good leader. It goes by many names. I have always thought of it as stubbornness. I see it in myself. I may not have a lot going for me but I am stubborn.
Julien Smith talks about The Flinch (a Kindle book you can download free right now, published by Seth Godin and the Domino Project). To flinch is to draw back or shrink, as from what is dangerous, difficult, or unpleasant. We all have a flinch. Smith says that we have to find ours and face it. “You need to take back control and stop the flinch…because you have a job to do — you have a fight you need to win.”
I know the enemy will try to derail every project, endeavor, undertaking, or calling. There will be points where you doubt yourself, God, and everything you thought you knew. And that is where stubbornness must come to play. Great leaders push through the doubts…the flinch points…and keep pursuing the call of God on their lives.
Have you experienced a crisis moment like this? Did you quit? Did you regret quitting? What will it take to keep going next time?
Quite a few years ago, my younger and more naive self, found a prayer by Jim Elliot. It said:
“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.”
It sounded like such a great thing to pray! It captured my heart. I had had enough irrelevance and been ignored too many times. I wanted to make a difference. So I told God that this was my desire. I made Elliot’s prayer my prayer.
I’m still glad I did but I didn’t realize what I was asking for. I found that this had made me a polarizing presence in people’s lives. Sometimes, I love it. Sometimes, I hate it.
But, that’s who I am. I have discovered about myself that I have become an agitator. I provoke people. Sometimes the only way to help people take their next step toward God is to shock them…challenge them…do something to upset their current pattern of thinking. I’m no big fan of sympathizing with bad thinking. Sometimes, pastors just try to be nice guys and supportive. I don’t do that.
I once told a guy who was trying to rationalize his extra-marital affair that I thought he was the stupidest guy I had ever met. I know. It doesn’t sound Christlike. And it may not be. In that moment, it seemed like the right thing to say. Later, I wondered…
I do think Jesus challenged people. Maybe he even provoked them. But I know myself well enough to know that I’m not always being Jesus. Sometimes, it’s just fun to tweak people.
So, submitted for your consideration: is it possible to be too nice to people? Do we support people in their bad thinking and bad behavior because we don’t want to risk losing a relationship? Can it be Christlike to provoke? Is making people uncomfortable…or even angry…always a bad thing? Have you ever wanted to be a fork in someone’s road rather than a billboard along the way?