FOR PASTORS, ON MONDAY
When Jesus appeared incognito to Cleopas and his fellow disciple on the Emmaus road they couldn’t make sense of Jesus’ death or the angels’ proclamation of his resurrection. Your people may be further down the road with Jesus than those two, but God put you among them, Bible in hand, to serve in Jesus’ stead.
Did anyone prepare you in seminary for the routine rigor of dying? Even when we occasionally heard that pastoring would be hard I don’t think we got the message that it was lethal. And repetitive! Jesus said that all his followers must take up their cross. All Christians must engage in dying when we walk with Jesus. But I think ministry leaders, if their souls are sensitive, are subject to more dying, deeper dying, than many others.
A record number of pastors have thought about quitting over the last year. No wonder. It’s been a killer season. I surely don’t need to reiterate the reasons. Recently I read and reread the litany of Paul’s soul-crushing trials in 2 Corinthians 6:3-10. Good grief, did that man suffer! But he just couldn’t quit. He wrote, “Since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” How was that possible?
How would you reply to someone who said to you, “We’re going to need to see your letters of recommendation”? How about saying this: I have two with me. One is here, inside my jacket, written on my own heart. You’re welcome to read it. It’s the story of Jesus’ work among my flock written into my life. …
Take a look at Paul’s crushing curriculum vitae in 2 Corinthians 6:4-10. He prefaced that list of woes by saying in verse 3, “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.” That’s our deep desire too—that in whatever we must face, our ministry for Jesus Christ will not be discredited.