Pastoral Reflections from Duane 1/28/19
Much of my inner thought life during the week revolves around the preparation and delivery of my Sunday sermon. Mondays are the day when I have to make the weekly transition from yesterday’s message to preparing for the next one. It’s never an easy movement to make. Depending on how well I felt about yesterday’s sermon often dictates how hard it’ll be to start the process all over again for yet another week.
One one hand, to my shame, sometimes my mood is too easily influenced by the number of compliments or seemingly meaningful responses I received. On the other hand, it’s difficult to get honest feedback. To put oneself out there on a stage be honest with their heart, life and God’s Word is a very vulnerable place to stand and the slightest unkind comment or criticism can easily crush one’s spirit. At the same time, those kind words and encouragements help me feel like what I’m doing is worthwhile and connecting. I always ask my wife after every sermon how it was? Pretty much she always says it was great, which always makes me feel good even when I know it wasn’t.
Sermon preparation every week involves two main processes: First, the exegetical demands of sound hermeneutics in working with the biblical text: Second, the prayerful consideration of the people, prayers, problems and pulse of the church. The goal is always to speak life from the first into the second when Sunday comes. After a week of carrying both these divine gifts preaching is like exhaling after holding your breath for a long time. I’ve heard it compared to giving birth or puking but both those analogies seem odd and inappropriate to me. :)
Yesterday’s sermon was on suffering. Suffering is never one of those topics I think any pastor who loves his people really wants to talk about. When you love people you don’t want to see them suffer and you hurt with them when they do. In addition, suffering is the number one reason people reject God. One of the benefits of preaching through a book of the Bible is you don’t have the choice to avoid difficult topics. But it makes preaching on those Sundays particularly hard.
I’m grateful however because I’ve become increasingly convinced in my own life and looking in on others that God consistently uses suffering to mature His people. I’m grateful how He is maturing us in this season while we have currently have multiple members battling cancer and other serious diseases. I’m so proud of our people as I’ve heard them pray for one another, seen them bring meals to one another and wept for one another. We’re learning how to suffer well together and God is maturing us.
My heart and vision for The Resolved Church is God would continue to make us a strong people who love God and love one another even when there are storms and suffering strikes. Thanks be to God for our Savior who suffered for us and suffers with us.
In this chapter Eugene tells a bit about his father and mother, their perspectives of the pastorate and who became his own biblical role model. I think it’s important that a pastor is always working to learn and grow personally. Part of the call of 1 Timothy 4:16 is to keep a close watch on one’s “self.” In the last few years I’ve spent a fair amount of time reading and receiving training that directly deals with personal development and big part of that has been coming to realize how significant one’s family of origin is. What home and what the perspectives there were like has a huge hand in influencing who a person becomes.
Eugene’s father wasn’t a fan of pastors, he thought they were men who had “never done a real day’s work.” This perspective still persists today. Just recently someone asked to meet with me and while I gave him some potential times he said they didn’t work with him because he “worked a real job.”
It actually didn’t bother me much because I know my weeks and the time I put in and realize he simply doesn’t know what a pastor does. To a certain extent I understand. What most see is a pastor on stage for around thirty minutes once a week. If that’s all it was, working only thirty minutes a week and receiving a full time salary, then it would definitely be the best hook up job you could ever dream of!
Eugene’s mother was a different story, she was very much involved in the life of the church, had a passion for the Bible and was very winsome and gracious with outsiders. In reading about her I couldn’t help but think of my grandmas. Both of my grandmas loved God, His Word and were the most kind and gracious people I’ve ever met.
In many ways I credit my grandmas for why I’m a Christian today. It was a bunch of surfers and skateboards who closed the deal for me by showing me what it looked like to be a normal person and a real Christian but it was my grandmas who created the forms The Gospel was poured into so I could hear it.
In reflection on this Eugene writes, “The way we learn something is more influential than the something we learn. No content comes into our lives free-floating: it is always embedded in a form of some kind.” I’m not sure if I agree the way we learn is “more influential” than what we learn. Ideas, events and truth are very powerful on their own. However, I do agree that the mode or medium through which the Gospel is delivered is very important. It’s the difference of whether or not the accompanying tone or character of the person who is giving it matches the words of the message being delivered. When it doesn’t it makes the message of salvation hard to hear.
I’m so grateful for my grandmas. They were genuine vessels of God’s grace and mercy to me or as Romans 10:15 says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!”
Eugene closes the chapter by sharing how David was the person he most identified with in the Bible when it came to his pastoral calling because David was the most unlikely candidate, an afterthought who was mostly unqualified and ignored but was chosen. I share the David sentiment in that I never dreamed nor desired to become a pastor but ended up so in response to a calling where I came to believe it was what God meant me to do with my life. If so, then there’s probably not a better word for it than “chosen.”
Being chosen is a freeing concept. The truth is no pastor gets to choose his congregation. You never know who you will end up pastoring. God brings the people through all His varied means and then it’s the pastor’s job to love the sheep in front of him regardless of who they are, what ailments they may have or how messy they may be. Believing you are chosen to the pastorate is freeing because when you are faced with your own inability to care for God’s people in the way they need, you can rest in knowing that they’ll be okay because God chose you for this task. Thank you God for choosing me to be a pastor.