Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Morning Randomness: Christmas, A Golden Celebration and Thoughts on Being a Pastor

- It's official. I feel "Christmasy!" I think it's finally hit me with all of the Christmas songs we sang at Grace Community yesterday and also going to a great Christmas concert by 40 Miles North last night. We had the kids' Christmas pictures taken last week and my wife wrapped all of the Christmas gifts last night. Now, if we just had a little snow instead of rain, I'd be ho-ho-ho-ing all day long.

- This week, my parents will have been married 50 years! I'm honsetly not sure how they did it. I know that sounds a little wierd to say, but there were so many things stacked against them. On "paper" their marriage should have ended in divorce a long time ago. They've had about every stressor a marriage could endure, but somehow they made it work and here we are ... 50 years later ... celebrating their marriage. They raised 5 kids in a house with only 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom ... they worked hard every single day of their life (even when they didn't have jobs) ... they stayed committed to each other through very difficult times and very good times ... 50 years is an amazing accomplishment for them both. Congrats, mom and dad!

- I've been really broken lately over a "feel" I've been having in our youth ministry. I feel as if there has just been a sense of "leveling off" lately ... like we're just happy to go through the motions, throw up a couple of songs, listen to something for 20 minutes, and then leave. My "feel" is that we're not engaging each other, challenging each other, and reaching others. I've been praying and asking God for a renewed sense of vision and passion and that things would "shake up" a bit in our ministry. If you're reading this and have a second, would you join me in that prayer.

The 40 Miles North Christmas concert was at a church about 20 minutes from where I live. I had never been to the church before. When the pastor came up and started introducing everything he said "It's great to have you all here and, wow, it's great to see this place filled up." And, he said that in such a way as to imply it's been a long time since his church has been "filled up." I really felt for the guy. It just seemed as if he needed some encouragement in his ministry and, as I reflect on it, I wish I would have gone up to him last night and tried to encourage him. Being a pastor is tough. When you do it right (and I often times don't do it right, that's for sure) you:
  • Never swerve from trying to reach people for Jesus

  • Bleed vision for your ministry

  • Move people beyond what they think they can do and see their faith grow

  • Sometimes enter the "crap" of a person's life and just sit their in the stench for a while. Sometimes they'll come out smelling better and sometimes they won't.

  • Feel the weight of trying to be creative every week, of not getting in ruts, of not simply just getting by because you want to do your best in presenting the Word of God to people

  • Understand that "success" in ministry is not as much about what you're doing as it is God simply deciding He's going to use you. If God spoke through a donkey in Numbers 22, He can pretty much use whatever He wants. Don't be so foolish to think that if good things are happening it's because you're special. Show humility.
  • Run from pride

  • Feel the pressure of being an example for others to follow and humbly understand that you are not above ANYTHING

  • Offend people ... sometimes by what you do right and sometimes by what you do wrong

  • Have the responsibility of leading your family at the same time leading your ministry which means you need to say "no" to some things and you have to be OK with that

  • Stand up for the Word of God

  • Walk in the Spirit always trying to be sensitive to His voice
  • Stay away from the power struggles because when you get in one, it's your fault, NOT the other person's
  • Hurt for people, laugh with people, cry with people, have fun with people

I share all of that simply to say take a minute to encourage your pastor ... to say thanks for all they do. As pastors, we're unfortunately pretty good at hiding what's truly going on inside of us. Pastors like to look strong for their people, not realizing the importance of leading from their weakness. If you are a pastor reading this ... be encouraged! Let God use you and shape through the good stuff and the hard stuff and continue the work of building in to the lives of others pointing them to God.

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