Since this is the life of a pastor blog, I thought I would share something that is often a struggle for pastors. Contrary to some modern belief, pastoring is not always easy. Having people under our care, administrating the congregation, ministering to those in inside and outside of the church and yes, even handling problem issues. It is a weight upon the pastor. To top all of that, there is the weekly deadline of at least two sermons. Not just any sermon, but a message that will engage a media driven society. To prepare a sermon that connects and changes the heart of every person is not easy. Furthermore, a pastor must prepare a message this week and not repeat it for at least five to seven years. He has to come up with (along with help from the Holy Spirit) approximately 800 original messages before he can consider using one again. The point of what I am saying is that pastoring sometimes involves pressures.
Several years ago, I went through a 10 month season of depression and burnout. The rigors of ministry had taken its toll on me and I was completely spent. It was during that time I struggled to stay in ministry. I began to consider walking away from pastoring and getting a “real” job so that the pressure would be less. There were days on end, where I had to literally talk myself into continuing ministry. The only thing that kept me going was that I didn’t know how I could live without preaching. Even though preaching had become a chore, I could not bear the thought of not ministering the Word of God.
It was as Jeremiah said (paraphrase), “I do not want to do this propheting any more, but it is a fire shut up within my bones.” It was during that season of burnout that I learned to work not out of my passion but out of my calling. The passion was wavering, but that calling kept calling. Through the midst of it all, I am glad that I kept going. I am thankful that God brought me out of that season and gave me a desire to continue ministry for Him.
Without shocking you too much, I want to share the question, I repeated often and my family asked often (they asked because they saw my struggle). The question was, “Is it worth all of this? Is the heartache and burnout even worth it?” At the time, I couldn’t see that it was, but it was all I had known for ten years of ministry and it is what I continued to do. As a side-note, when you are on the brink of giving up ministry, it is amazing how many good job opportunities come your way:)
Years later, as I look back on that season, I have clearly determined that ministry is worth it. What other profession can you help people, minister to needs and at the end of the day know that you have attempted to make the world a better place. Ministry is one of the only things a person can do that we can actually watch people’s lives transform before our eyes.
Yesterday as I was studying for Sunday’s message, a verse in I Peter 5, gave me a victory over this question of whether ministry is worth it.
Peter writes, “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 3 Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. 4 And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.”
We are not working for this life. We are working for the next. As pastors, we must keep a perspective that all we do is not to build a Kingdom on this earth, but to lay up our treasures in Heaven. As I was studying the different crowns a believer will receive, none compared to the crown of glory. The others were great nonetheless, but the crown of glory was said to be unfading and never ending. I do not know the theological implications, but I know that if, as the Bible says, a leader or teacher shall receive a stricter judgment, then maybe, they will receive a greater crown.
My point in all of this, is that when pastors sacrifice in this life, it will be rewarded in the next life. This Scripture has given me a knew passion for ministry. I am looking forward to that never fading Crown of Glory. Pastors keep up the good work! Lay people, pray for your pastors!