Today is May 2nd.
Yesterday we had a cold front come through that dropped the temperature from the mid-80s to the 30s in less than 2 hours. Last night I saw snow on the radar. Today it is raining w/ 25+ mph winds.
Today is February 90th.
When I was growing up, pastors scared me; youth ministers freaked me out a little bit, but they were goofier so I could handle it; & volunteers were like my parents/friends. There’s something about the position of authority & leadership - along w/ an appropriate amount of relationship distance - that seems off-putting when it comes to ministers. For some reason we tend to see our pastoral staff as the apex of holy, the ones who know it all & have experienced it all, the ones who never leave the church & only listen to KLOVE.
Here’s the truth. That’s not who they are. I’m currently, essentially, potentially, a “pastor-in-training” (PIT) & go to school w/ a lot of other PITs. Heck, even some (most) of my professors are Ps. I’ve been baptized into the sub-culture of pastoral leadership, though it may soon look a little different than Ps nowadays. So here are a few things I think everyone should know about my generation of ministers.
I say all of this out of love. I just wish people would look at ministers less like holy aliens & more like volunteers because, let’s be honest, if we could still do this full-time & not get paid, we would. We excel at it & seem like we know a lot because we love serving Jesus in ministry so much that we put a lot of time into perfecting whatever capacity we’ve been called to fill. Ministers are only really different in title. Please don’t let that scare you.
Warning: Hypocritcal statements ahead.
I just read 1 Cor. 5 & all I can think about is the backwardness of the Church. We picket & protest & rebel against those in the World who do not uphold our standards; but we aid, defend, ignore, or otherwise let slide the atrocities being done in the Church (I know, that was heavy & emotive language…).
First of all, the World is held to the natural standards God has set in place for everyone & they will be judged according to how they measure up. However, being surprised or upset when they fall short & reprimanding them w/ Scripture is just silly. James talks about praising and cursing w/ the same mouth, but can we really expect someone who hasn’t been heart-changed for the Lord to follow this moral (& primarily Christian image-retaining) standard? Of course not. They don’t care. Why should we expect them to? Our job is to instead be w/ them in their sinning & just be that encouraging light that’s always pointing towards God. The behavior comes after the heart-change, & even then not in our expectations or time-table. Let God work on that heart, we’re just pointing the person in the right direction.
Secondly, as an accountability partner who has an accountability partner, calling out a brother-in-Christ on a no-no is one of the hardest things to do, but I think it’s one of the most important things to do. We can’t tolerate those in the Church poisoning the well; the wolves in sheep’s clothing, if you will. In 1 Cor. 5:6-8, Paul likens these people to leaven and the Church to bread. Long story short, leaven is bad & it only takes a little to raise (or ruin) an entire lump of dough. He suggests cutting them off from the family.
Even just this morning, my Evangelism professor was talking about a man who used to attend a church he pastored in California. When the church found out the man owned a store that promoted and distributed pornography, they asked him to rescind his membership. This may seem harsh, but tolerating such Worldly behaviors not only reflects badly on the church (you know, Christ’s bride), but it is also further destroys our credibility as Christians. Who’s going to listen to the pastor of a church who allows a porn-dealing “Christian” to be active in ministry & witnessing (& by the way, I wouldn’t be so sure he was a Christian; if he’d had a heart-change, his behavior would have changed accordingly. Pornography is not pleasing to God). Though you will be happy to know that they allowed this man to remain a church-goer there. How could they not? If he was indeed an unbeliever, then they were called to love him and accept him as he was. We all are.
So there are my 2 points: let’s not be so shocked when the World acts like the World, but let’s be appalled when the Church acts like the World. There’s no place for that; we’re just dirtying ourselves up by sleeping w/ our culture, & that’s not God’s desire for His children. Just read the Old Testament.
This may very well be a cynical post. But I suppose that’s okay.
In my YouVersion Bible app reading plan today I was in 2 Cor. 11. The Key Idea is that we can’t avoid obstacles associated with change and it goes on to talk about the inevitability of obstacles and how to appropriately face them (which you can read for yourself in the plan “Change Before You Have To”).
I would like to add this thought, if I may. We need to realize that our obstacles will not always be the obvious shades of negativity we tend to paint them. Sometimes the best things that happen to us, our greatest days, and those most fulfilling of moments can be as every bit an obstacle as divorce and death. Proverbs tells us that too much honey will make one sick. My old youth pastor used to say that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
We must know our goals and maintain our focus. I can have a really productive and fruitful week at church camp, but if I focus too much on my involvement in the week or in the events themselves then I can easily remove my focus from the Who that really matters and create new obstacles.
For me as a minister, church cannot simply be my “job.” Youth group cannot only be a twice a week and three times per summer activity. My goal is to help cultivate the kingdom on earth with my gifts and my focus in this race of life is Jesus and Jesus only. Anything else is a potential obstacle.
What are those natural obstacles on your road to success and fulfillment? What has the potential to become an obstacle?
Never let yourself be blind-sided and always push through.
“Idol worship is believed to be a thing with which ancient civilizations struggled and those of us in such a free and proud culture prefer to think that our worship of God, in whom we truly believe, is not hindered by our worship of democracy, patriotism, capitalism, or self.”
For a long time, this is something with which I’ve struggled. The voice was always specific and never failed to withstand my questions and arguments. Even these days I’m hearing voices, but not as strong or as often; not as bone-chillingly depressing. I think they’re giving up. If they haven’t been before, they sure will now.
No more voices.
Check out this link (^^^) to Jon Acuff’s newest website. Participate in something I’ve recently discovered and begun advocating myself: a community of confession.
You are not alone.
Share your voices. See that there are others with the same voices. Encourage those with other voices. And if you really want those voices to give up on you, check out Jon’s blog-post on the left-hand side of the page.
It’s a simple concept. It’s a Biblical concept. Confess your fears and shortcomings with others. And always know that I’m hear to listen to your voices and share that burden with you, as a good brother-in-Christ ought to do.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
An acknowledgment that the kingdom belongs to the One to whom we are praying. Our accomplishments and victories in Jesus’ name are not apart from the Father.
An invitation for the kingdom to be accomplished in the immediate; for the spiritual glories of the Father to be present among His Creation.
your will be done,
Again, a request for the desires and plans of the Father to be accomplished above those of the one who is praying.
on earth as it is in heaven.
The place to which the kingdom must come and the place from which the kingdom will come.