As a pastor, my calling is undeniable. Inside I feel deeply burdened when I do something that could affect the congregation. Conversely, when something happens within the congregation, I feel an equal amount of responsibility to the members to "right the wrong(s)".
As I continue to see families make decisions for their lives, it is easy to say why someone does something (or doesn't). It is easy, to make the mistake of creating more problems by allowing the human paranoia to kick in...and for us to kick peaceful, pure thoughts to the curb for a season. As a pastor when you "lose" a family, you are immediately filled with bewilderment (if you don't know why because of a lack of communication or any other number of reasons), anger, jealousy, inward thought to wards "Why would someone want to leave our congregation?!"
First off, shut up. Your mind has all kinds of tricks the adversary will ensnare you with, just so you are distracted. Admit that you are flawed and that it is more than likely that you didn't invest as much as time as you could (or they, the individual/family) or needed/wanted you to. If you truly seek out help, by the way, it doesn't mean you no longer can be a pastor. The taboo shtick of being perfect left you as a human when you became aware of right and wrong. So quit trying to be perfect. Stop admitting every week that you are broken and flawed (because where is the restoration and grace of Jesus in that) and start working on it. If you don't, no forward progress can be made.
Progress, in the verb form means "To make progress; to move forward in space; to continue onward in course; to proceed; to advance; to go on;"
Progress in a marriage can be new levels of trust built.
Progress in a friendship may include vacationing together or watching each others kids for date night.
Progress in your spiritual life must have evidence of an advancement...otherwise you are stalled out.
Reasons for Halted Progress in a Pastor's Life?
#1 Not acknowledging or knowing past hurt, rejection, pain and dealing with it so it doesn't affect you and/or the congregation.
#2 Knowing your past is toxic and not dealing with it.
#3 Intentionally ignoring God because you have magically found a new path, never heard before with a new interpretation of the Gospels (which is untrue and MUST be self-centered/self-serving).
#4 Justifying your actions with even more sin, like lying or manipulation.
Reasons for Restoration in a Pastor's Life?
#1 His family, the elders and the congregation encompass, with prayer, the office of pastor and seek the Holy Spirit's discernment for restoration.
#2 Like Peter in John 21, Peter has 1.) renounced that he knew Jesus 2.) Broke trust by telling Jesus he would NEVER betray him. If Peter can be restored to his leadership ("tend to my flock/sheep") then why can't others?
#3 Certain sins take on different paths of restoration. It is also vital to point out that when leadership surrounding the pastor have open lines of communication and refuse to confront, according to Matthew 18 principles, then they should also share in the neglect of responsibility as leadership.
Leadership and the Pastor work together to commit to excellence. When one feels other leadership is not committing, then (again), refer to Matthew 18 and talk to them. Don't send an impersonal e-mail in which text and inferences may be misconstrued. Don't text or even call. Talk face-to-face. There is something good that happens when both parties can look each other in the eyes with love, after prayer, and commit to resolving an issue.
Perhaps then, instead of allowing our flesh to struggle through...His Glory and Goodness will. Only then may we be called peacekeepers and children of God.
When recovering from a storm at sea, in which our ship was torn to pieces, the feel of the sand on our knees and face felt like a long, overdue dream. Every muscle in our body aches from the strain that we cannot quite comprehend or identify its origin. We grasp to the firm of the sand, yet those lapping waves still pull, tug desperately to take us back out to sea, slowly eroding the sand away. Once we make just enough distance where we no longer fear a higher tide coming, we exhaust the last ounce of gumption in our bones to roll over and look at a sky, filled with possibilities and wonder that has been there the whole time, but unforeseeable amidst the caustic waves.
For so many Christians, this marginally defines how we deal with the paradox of being "in this world, but not of it". Have you ever experienced those moments where you wake up from a battle that you have been fighting, only to realize the battle wasn't necessary, but you squandered precious time calculating, re-negotiating, compromising, debating what you believed, what others would think about your belief or if you had belief in anything other than in yourself at all?
The self-centric ego and the merciful humbleness we are taught to strive for may feel like an endless storm, beating you over and over, with no headway in sight. Please let me encourage you as someone who has been in that storm my entire life; never give up.
Most of my life, I have struggled with wanting people to "like" me. What is most ironic is there was no probable way that people could like me, because I barely liked myself. There has to be other Christians (and definitely pastors) who misplace (or misidentify) their motivation in word and deed because we are in limbo of wanting to present the likeness of Christ, but also be liked by this sinful world. Literally our sin heart and sinner's heart warring for top priority. One marked with death, the other with eternal life (only through the acceptance of Jesus Christ's free gift of grace and sacrifice on the cross for all sin).
Can a heart contain untruth and still belong to Him? Only, if the heart realizes its untruth and repents. There is hope for the worst of us humans. I take Paul's claim of being the chief of sinners and wear it as a reminder that without Christ I can do no thing. I will acknowledge my flaws as a human and not be "puffed up or proud", but remain aware of my tendency to fall towards the easy, most crooked of paths. It is time that we are true to ourselves. Speak the truth about who we are. Eliminate the phasod. We are all but brothers and sisters in Christ. We are strong, in Christ. We are whole, in Christ. We are loved, because of Christ.
The moment you realize the importance you place upon your time in the life is NOT important and makes no eternal difference.
This is both reality and falsehood.
This world provides the context. The conversations I hear in Starbucks, the mall, Cracker Barrel, the gym, the church and in my own home, are interconnected to this innate desire to be fulfilled by what we invest our time into.
Not often, are we compelled to look inwardly at ourselves and homes to identify factors to why we are so busy. How many times a week do you find yourself saying, "I can't...because I am too busy?" For this moment in our lives right now, ask yourself if that is relevant to your relationship with Christ..."I can't because I am too busy?".
The more of these moments, the more regret (or we stubbornly shove off the guilt to the far recesses to deal with in mid-life crisis or other catastrophic moments later on), the further down the trail we go, ever lengthening our distance from the narrow road we are to traverse.
If you feel like you've realized one of these moments, try...just try to deal with it. It will bring vitality to your life when you open your eyes and heart to the free future in front of you. Most of our lives consist of walking a bulging wire, surrounded by fear, waiting for us to take the inevitable plunge, but DONT DO IT! Walk straight, confidently, and strong with Christ as your balance and counter-weight to your sin.
Then in that moment...you will realize that He has had you all along.
A shepherd. A servant leader. Assertive and foundationally unshakeable.
He embraces the differences in people, but connects each person through the vehicle of friendship and relationship to the cross, the ultimate goal of the loving, devout pastor.
Despite what our culture and even those within the church, we [pastors] are not meant to be push-overs. Outward actions of peace, passivity and compassion do not equate into soft, indecisive leader. This pursuit of peace is because we live in conflict every day just like all of our members. We have no secret. There is no special formula of how many coffee's or organic bran muffins to achieve theological potency with our words. We are people who live in a glass house and we know it. We made up our minds (with the support of our family) to step up into the role God calls us to. In a later blog post, my wife Leigha, will write, "What is a Pastor's Wife?"
When researching the role of pastor (caretaker of people) you may find that vocationally the definition is difficult to define. Please ask yourself why? Who complicates simple things? God or us?
Frank E. Coleman is pastor of Compass Church. Married, two boys (and baby Coleman due Sept. 19!), and a transparent faith journey. He currently lives in Evansville, IN and works bi-vocationally in Men's Shoes at Dillard's in Eastland Mall.