Month: May 2015

7 Things My Pastor Told Me, But I Didn’t Listen

I’ve been reading several articles this morning entitled “Things Your Pastor Wishes He Could Tell You, But…” and they all have similar things to say. 

1. I need time off, but rarely get it.
2. I feel under paid/appreciated, even though you think I’m over compensated
3. I don’t really care what you think about the music.
4. Etc.

Much of what I have found on this list has been fueled by pain.  Both from the pastor’s side, as well as, the response of the congregation, the comments and lists are a reflection of a great deal of pain, and unmet expectations. 

Some of the comments from congregations listed complaints like:

1. Don’t get mad when we call you in the middle of the night about stuff that you think could wait until tomorrow.  It matters to us. It should matter to you.
2. Why do you keep asking us to tithe when you get paid from our tithing?
3. I just want to be in church, I don’t want to have a job, so stop asking.
4. Etc.

And even though I have quoted each of these examples from other articles on the web, you may think that I am emotionally driven in my presentation of them.  Pastors who read this may see these lists as slanted toward or against pastors, while members of my own congregation may see them as me trying to get back at them for something.  I assure you that neither are the case.  I have quoted them exactly as they appeared in other articles. 

However, such a heated debate over the role of the pastor suggests that there is a gap between those who stand and deliver the messages from our pulpits, and those to whom those messages have been addressed. 

So what do we do?

I can’t speak for all of you, but I can speak for myself.  Here are some of the things that I have heard my pastors teach, but have failed to follow:

1. Read the Bible in pursuit of Jesus, not just for a lesson plan. (Psalm 119:105)
I cant tell you how many times I’ve been convicted of this, and how many times I have found myself looking at the Bible as a reference, rather than a passionate display of love.  I continue to struggle, but have yet to pursue the Lord like I should.

2. Respond rather than React (James 1)
From the pulpit, and in the office, I have been charged by pastor after pastor to be calm as I listen to my congregation’s critique of some part of my job.  I struggle to not take things like that personally, and believe that I am growing in this area, but continue to have to be reminded of it nonetheless. 

3. It’s not a competition (Matthew 18:1-6)
Not much to say other than this.  We do not fight against each other.  Not denominations, not buildings, not pastors, not people, not teachers, not even the lost.  We fight for the kingdom of God against the evil one. 

4. Give sacrificially and with a good attitude (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
I must give of my life, my time, my passion, my dreams, and my money.  I do so because he gave me life instead of death, time instead of death, dreams instead of death, and all that exists belongs to him.  My mantra when it comes to giving is, “It’s just money.”  But living that idea each day is hard.  

5. Find someone who will be a mentor for you, and let them teach you! (1 Peter 5:5)
The most profound periods of growth in my life have been when I have isolated one person to mentor me, and I sat under them willingly, eagerly, and humbly.  When I have this man in my life, I am far more able to serve my congregation than when I neglect that time. 

6. The standard that is expected of Pastors is almost impossible, but it is still the standard! (1 Timothy 3:2-3; Titus 1:7-8)
How do I expect to accomplish all that is demanded of me as a pastor? From work to my personal conduct, to my leadership of others, and even to how I love my wife and child, the demand is more than I can ever hope to live up to, but Christ is the one who strengthens me to do this.  I don’t have to trust in my own strength, I trust in Jesus! I just have to yell that to myself in the mirror some mornings…well, most mornings.

7. Pray like your life depends on it, because it does! (Ephesians 6:10-20)
My strength, my spiritual power, my direction, and my understanding of the Lord will come as much from my prayer life as from scripture.  The primary importance is, when I share myself with the Lord, and listen to his desires of me through prayer, my flesh will not as easily sidetrack me.  I fight against the flesh just like any other believer, but my fight would be far more successful if I would pour myself into my prayer life, and open the door for the Lord to pour himself into me. 

 

Not many of us can actually say that we weren’t told what we must do.  Most of us have simply neglected the lessons we have learned from our pastor.  Maybe it’s time we begin to practice what they have preached. 

 

May God bless you as you pursue Him!

Bridle the Tongue

When James discusses the tongue in chapter 3 of his letter, he likens it to the rudder of a great ship, a spark that starts a flame, or a bit that leads a horse.   Fascinatingly enough, each of these analogies is a tool that is used to do great work.  They are each small tools, but they are focused on the gaining ground in one way or another. 

How valuable is a rudder when the sails of a ship are filled with wind?

How useful is a bit in the mouth of a thoroughbred horse at the Kentucky derby?

How critical is the spark that starts a fire on a cold night?

The value of each of these rests in the one that is giving them direction.  The person who is consciously activating each of these tools is in the position of direction.  The same is true of the tongue.  It is not that the tongue should be killed, only that the tongue must be used as a tool for the Kingdom rather than a destructive force. 

A fire, a bit, and a rudder can also be used for corrupt gain, for destruction and for the derailment of the things of God, but for the one whose heart has been bought at the price of the blood of Jesus, the ability to direct the tongue for the good of the church is a function of passion.  We must passionately steer the ship, coax the horse, fan a spark into a flame, and speak life into those around us. 

We must be intentional about our speech, and direct our tongue to be the deliverer of life instead of death.
-Without a good navigator, the pilot of a ship wanders aimlessly in the vastness of the ocean
-Without a good trainer, the jockey fights against the horse.
-Without defined boundaries, even the smallest fire can set an entire forest ablaze.
-Without intentional and eternal life that only comes from the Lord, the tongue can spread death to all who hear its words.

But with Jesus, a tongue can be bridled and put to good use spreading the message of hope. 

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Isaiah 52:7