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Monday, November 30, 2015

GOD, HELP ME! I'M A PASTOR!


PASTORS (AND SPOUSES): I've been gripped with an incredible burden for you. I have a strong feeling that some of you are struggling more than usual right now. I read a couple days ago that being a pastor is one of the top four hardest jobs in America (President of the United States, a university president, and a CEO of a hospital were the other three).

First of all, I know how you're feeling. I know how depressing it can be when the people you've basically sacrificed your (and your family's) life for seemingly don't care-I think every pastor feels that way at some point. It can be frustrating when you pass the offering plate and you know there isn't enough there to pay the bills and you'll be the one that has to cover the difference which means your children go without. That is compounded a thousand times when you know they're spending money left and right on everything else. It can knock the life out of you when you are giving it everything you have to build the church and the people that claim to be members of your church won't even show up to service (much less throw their life into the ministries of the church). I know how it feels to have nearly every person you love and depend on walk out on you. I feel you. God does too.

But I want to tell you a few things that I think will help you:

1. STOP TAKING IT PERSONAL. STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP! People are free-willed moral agents. You can't make them love God. If the love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit can't inspire people to commitment and faithfulness, what are you going to do? 

HOW ARE YOU DOING? Are you doing your best? Are you living holy? Are you staying connected to God? Are you preaching the Word? You can only do what you can do. Despite your unintentional god-complex, you're not responsible for other people's walk with God. 

Furthermore, for the most part, the people love you. It's God and His Kingdom their hearts are cold toward. They don't want you to suffer. They don't want you to hurt. They just don't understand that your life is wrapped up in the church and when the church suffers, you and your family suffer. They honestly don't connect the two. When they withhold their tithes, you take it personally because it's you that doesn't get paid. It's easy to be angry and even bitter about that. DON'T BE! Again, it doesn't cross their minds that they are hurting you. They just aren't kingdom minded. 

YOU WORK FOR GOD, NOT THE PEOPLE! HE WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU!

2. DON'T BE TOO WRAPPED UP IN THE CHURCH. The church isn't your bride, she's the bride of Christ. You need to concentrate, first and foremost, on your own walk with God. Make sure you're alive. Make sure you're passionate toward Christ. You cannot allow other people to hinder your personal walk with God. When you do that you fall into the same category as the lukewarm laity. Secondly, focus on YOUR family. They love you. They need you. They'll always be there for you, even when others walk out. Don't lose your wife ministering to other men's wives. Don't allow your children to suffer while trying to build children's ministries for other kids. Find a good balance and then maintain it.

3. BE CONTENT WITH WHAT YOU HAVE. A breakthrough moment for me was when I come to the conclusion that I may never be a megachurch pastor. We gauge success by numbers and that's suicidal. Most of us don't have the money an Elevation Church or Potter's House has. We can't afford million dollar audio/video equipment. Most of the time we do without a paycheck ourselves, much less spend $10 million dollars a year on staff. As bad as it crushes our pride, we may never break the 50, 100, 200, etc mark. We have to guard ourselves from thinking too highly of ourselves. We may not be as awesome as we think. Pastoring a church of 2,000 may be the death of some of us and we just don't know it--but God does. Be content with where God has you.

And probably, even more important than realizing you may never be megachurch pastors, you need to settle that even if it is God's will for you to have a large church in the future, it isn't where you are now. So instead of always trying to figure out why thousands aren't coming to the church, focus on the 30, 50,80,100 faithful that are coming. Do your best to teach and equip them. Be the greatest small church pastor you can be.

4. BEING A SUCCESSFUL CHURCH IS ABOUT INFLUENCE. A healthy church isn't necessarily a large church. A healthy, successful church is an influential church. Our churches should affect our communities in one way or another. We should have a positive effect in that we are healing and strengthening our communities, but it should also be known that we stand for righteousness and hate evil. To be SUCCESSFUL is to be INFLUENTIAL. If you only have 20 people, don't hide behind your four walls. Make as much of an impact as 20 people filled with the Holy Ghost can! Trust me! That's a lot! 

5. SUCCESS IS BEING IN GOD'S WILL. Success isn't about numbers. Success is about being in God's will. The "success" of other churches/pastors does not determine your success. And your laity's faithfulness (or lack thereof) doesn't determine YOUR success with God. You can be powerful and alive if NO ONE else is! You can have revival in your home if no one else around you wants it. Study the best you can! Preach the best you can! Sing the best you can! If you have one leader, equip them. If you only have one singer, equip them. Do the best you can with what you have and then let God sort everything else out!

YOU WORK FOR GOD! It's His Church. They're His people. He'll deal with them like only He can. You make sure that you're a Christian before you're anything else. It's hypocritical to lose your victory while watching the lives of all of those that don't have the victory! Live for Jesus. Work for Jesus. Be glad that you get to do anything for Him! We should be in hell right now, but for the grace of God.

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