This is the fourth post in a series of posts titled “Pastorals”. One of the things that I have begun to realize about myself is that I tend to forget things quickly. My goal in this series is to continually remind myself of the lessons that I have learned in ministry.
One of the great privileges of my life has been to serve the local church. I love the church and with each passing day that I serve the church I grow to love her even more. The church is the bride of Christ and her Husband paid a terrible price to purchase her salvation. As one of His undershepherds you too must love His bride and cherish her.
While I deeply love the church, the sad reality is that the church can be a hard place to serve at times. Emotions seem to run much deeper when something is as personal as ministry and the cost to your own soul will be steep. I remember a conflict many years ago where a parent of one of my High School students was so furious with me over a decision that I had made that he called me on my cell phone and literally yelled at me for 30 minutes, while I was driving around planning a youth retreat. Several weeks later this same man gave me the tongue lashing of my life on the church patio, on a Sunday morning, 5 minutes before I had to get up and lead worship. So, while undershepherds must love the church deeply, we must also be realistic about what it costs to love the church.
What I would like to address this morning is not so much the matter of loving the church even when she hurts you, but more specifically, where is the minister to go with those hurts? The most natural answer to this question is that he should go to his wife and while this is sometimes true, it certainly deserves a little more thought. Far too many shepherds bring home baggage from the ministry that they leave with their wife, or even (sadly) with their kids. The end result of this practice is a wife and children who are bitter at the church for hurting their dad or her husband. So, what do you tell your family about the ministry? In short, all of the good things. Tell them about the joy of studying, the new insight that you received today, the precious moments by someone’s side in the hospital, and the man who gave his life to Christ in your office. The point is to tell your family all of the good things that happen and especially never to speak ill of anyone in the church. You need not fear that this will present them with an unrealistic picture of ministry. Your countenance at times, or the slump in your shoulder will be testimony enough to the battles that you have fought. You need not supplement these silent testimonies with anything else.
The question still remains, “to whom shall you go?” The most tangible answer to this question is to other pastors who can shoulder the burden alongside of you. In addition, it is appropriate at times to speak with your wife about some of the hard things, but you must be especially diligent to guard her heart and to keep her appraised of the situation until its completion (don’t just leave her hanging). Finally, cast your cares upon the Lord (1 Peter 5:7) and trust the Chief Shepherd to care for you.
‘Til Sin is Bitter Christ Will not be Sweet,
Drew BuellShare on Facebook
May 04 2009 04:00 am | Pastorals