And I won't disagree with Pastor Matt at all. Not in the least. In fact, I would add my voice to his comments and say, "Right on, brother! Preach it!"
It's true--at least for me.
Did I/Do I take it personally when people leave for another congregation? Yes.
Did I/Do I feel pressure from week to week? Yes.
Did I/Do I struggle with getting my worth from ministry? Yes.
Did I/Do I regularly think about quitting? Yes, with qualification. I don't think about quitting the ordained ministry. I am almost as certain as I can be about what God has chosen me to do.
Am I completely transparent? No.
Did I/Do I measure myself by the numbers? Yep.
Did I/Do I spend more time discouraged than encouraged? This is a hard one, but leaning toward yep.
Did I/Do I worry about what you think? More than I would like to admit, especially when you are paying my salary.
Did I/Do I struggle with competition and jealousy? Yes. This one was a killer for me not too long ago.
Did I/Do I feel like I've failed you more than helped you? Sometimes. This was actually something I was trained heavily in while in seminary--I know I can't help everyone, but I sure would like to.
I understand these things very, very well. Much of my sense of worth had been based upon just these things. And in previous years, I would have done one of two things:
1. Continue to suffer in silence.
2. Blame my congregation for these things and insist they need to change so that I no longer felt these things.
That would have been my tact.
But things have changed in my life. Because I have been converted to the Gospel. Take a listen to this video beginning at the 30 minute mark. This is Timothy Keller talking at a conference on Evangelism and ramming the concept of grace home. Listen through until the 36 minute mark. Please give it a listen:
When Keller hit me between the eyes regarding where I was getting my self-worth, I knew I stood condemned. I knew I stood in the wrong place. I was getting my justification from the wrong place.
And I knew bearing it in silence wasn't an option.
I knew I couldn't beg my congregation to change.
It wasn't their problem.
It was mine.
I had and still have to an extent a heart condition.
But, things have changed.
Things are different.
Down deep, there is something within my soul which has been transformed, and I can only describe it as grace. God's worked down deep to lessen the way I feel about those top 10 things. Do I still have moments? Yep. You bet I do. But they are fewer and far between.
Grace means your self worth comes, not from all the stuff you do; not from your job; not from your accomplishments; not from your bank account; not from your family; not from how your children are doing; but from the Lord.
I don't know if Pastor Matt is going to follow up on his post. I hope he does, but I want to state the following: I do not believe pastors need to suffer in silence; I do not believe they have to change their congregation; I do not believe they have to work hard to change their stance (believe me, I think that if you try to change your perception of these things, you will fail and become even more depressed); instead, I do believe pastors need to realize the nature of grace.
"I may not have accomplished much in the eyes of the world, but the Lord and I are on very good terms."
My grandfather's statement awakened within me the reality of grace for he highlighted the most important thing in the world--the Lord and I are on good terms. And that didn't come from me. It came from Him. As does my salvation; as does my self-worth; as does my sense of whether or not I am accomplishing anything at all. It's grace. Pure, unadulterated grace, and it changes you.