I work within an industry that gives people opportunities to improve & lead themselves, their families (wives, husbands, children, etc.) and, eventually, their communities & culture. It’s a process of building interconnected teams which strive for both individual and team goals. The overall vision (achieved by addressing individual goals & markers along the way, as stepping stones) is a culture which is turned back to God, His Word & plan for us: Making individuals & families whole again eventually makes culture and the world whole again.
The hurdles that must be overcome to become that “better version” of themselves, and thus become equipped for “every good work” which God has planned for them, can be (and often are) enormous – and predominantly mental/emotional & spiritual.
The world conditions us to be 95% thinkers: thoughts like “I’m not good enough”, “Debt is normal”, “Tolerance of most everything is expected & good”, “I’m nobody special & should be happy with my lot in life” or “There are no absolute truths” – are merely some of the wrong-headed thinking that permeates our collective acculturation.
Our biblically-based program/process helps overcome 95% thinking – we develop 5 per-centers.
And, taking on men & women as clients – or developing them into partners – while ultimately rewarding…can be a torturous, daily task of incremental progress & patience-testing. And, as a quick aside, my personal trainer friends tell me that their world of fitness, exercise & personal goal achievement is quite similar – my motto (as a runner for 44+ years) is the Nike adage to “Just Do It!”
Whenever I’ve taken church-based personality tests, I score high in the pastor/teacher area. I can work with people, but find that when they continually stumble & fail – at tasks & goals that they have told me they want to achieve – my patience cup is often completely drained. Their doubts, bad habits & sometimes old sins come creeping back (as distractions) and it becomes a process of 2 steps forward & 1 step back.
After wondering if there was something wrong with the feelings & inner struggles of dealing with people who routinely don’t keep their word to me or, more importantly, themselves, I read this article by Eric Geiger. It has helped me realize that what I struggle against is a universal phenomenon of the human condition.
It has also added a dimension of grace: I have studied & implemented the strategies I teach for years – to expect others to immediately grasp & utilize them can become an unfair act of judgment upon others. And, rather than look to others for the results:
“In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God”.
March 23, 2017 By Eric Geiger
Since leaving full-time local church ministry to become one of the vice-presidents at LifeWay, I have always missed and loved the local church. Dr. Draper, the former president of LifeWay, once told a leader on my team, “If you ever stop missing being on local church staff, leave immediately.” The sentiment was that we could only be helpful to local church leaders if we love what they do and miss what they do.
So after moving to Nashville almost six years ago, I still looked for ways to serve a local church body. I became a teaching pastor at a church and led a Sunday School class for young married couples before I began serving churches as interim pastor. My second interim was a church right where I live, just a few minutes from our home, and I loved and connected with the people very early on. In time they asked me to move from being interim pastor to serving as bi-vocational senior pastor. I was honored and prayerfully jumped at the opportunity. And I greatly underestimated the weight of being the senior pastor. I calculated correctly the time it would take to prepare sermons, meet with pastors on the team, and give direction to the church. I scheduled, blocked off, and fiercely protected the appropriate time. But no amount of time management can decrease the weight of being a senior pastor. It is no exaggeration to say that being an interim preacher weighs less than 1/10th of being the senior pastor—even when the senior pastor is “bi-vocational.”
When the apostle Paul listed all his sufferings, he concluded the list with referencing his burden for the churches he served. The weight of pastoring, though filled with immense joy, was a weight that topped Paul’s list of suffering.
Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? (2 Corinthians 11:28-29)
Notice a few of the words Paul uses: face, daily, pressure, concern, sin, inwardly, burn. With those words in view, here are five realities about the weight of pastoring.
- The weight of pastoring is constant
Paul declares the weight is “daily.” A pastor never stops being pastor. The weight is there constantly.
- The weight of pastoring is emotional
Paul writes that he “faces” the pressure daily. The weight of pastoring is not merely something you read or hear about. It is something you face, sense, and experience.
- The weight of pastoring is spiritual
More than merely dealing with measures on an income statement, sales report, or balance sheet, a pastor deals in the arena of “sin” and wrestles continually with the implications of a fallen and broken world.
- The weight of pastoring is tangible
Paul mentions his “concern” for real people, people who are weak and struggling. There are tangible needs of real people, and they weigh heavily on a pastor who loves the people being served.
- The weight of pastoring is intense
Paul writes that he “burns inwardly.” It is not only the tangible needs of people but also the inward burning for continual responsibility for the flock. The tangible needs of individual sheep are present but so is the intangible burden for the whole flock.