Pastors don’t have to always be upbeat, thank goodness, but we must be living displays of hope in Christ, hope here and now, and hope hereafter. We must be heavenly minded if we are to be of any earthly good. When David prayed for God’s protection in Psalm 16 he described the parapets of his security…
Sometimes, trying to quiet our fears is like trying to tuck an octopus into bed. How many nights have you tried to sleep all tangled in your worries about the church, your family, your finances, or your own well-being? We need to know how to pray in those times because they won’t let go of us unless we do. We won’t be able to sing, “It is well with my soul,” without prayer. It’s always true, but you can’t always sing it.
I used to tell my pastoral counseling students, “Your people will come to you for counsel about marriage, kids, jobs, decisions—all kinds of things, but almost no one will ever ask you to help them with their souls. Don’t let that throw you off. It’s always about their souls.” So it is when we seek God’s counsel. God always starts with our souls.
Pastors aren’t neutral arbiters or consultants in the problems facing us. They suck us in. They affect our own souls. We need God’s counsel, not only to help others but to guard our own hearts.
When push comes to shove—which is exactly what happens in churches sometimes—pastors realize how insecure our positions are. Veteran pastors have this in common with the old gunslingers: we don’t like to sit with our backs to the door.
There are holy people in this beleaguered congregation, I realized. Noble, splendid, high-born people of God who will help keep me safe and be the delight of my life. I wrote the date, 2/98, in the margin.