Tuesday, May 13, 2014

10 Things Pastors Hate to Admit Publically

I was exposed to this article by the ELCA Facebook page.

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.

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