Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pastors Struggle Too

This is not "great confession" time, but it could be. As a child, I idolized my pastor. I looked up to him as the most godly of all men - certainly the most godly of all I knew. That's not to put down my own parents because, in fact, we all looked up to our pastor. I thought he was one person who did not share the same spiritual struggles as the rest of us poor mortals. Then, as the fellow says, "I are one," and my attitude has changed considerably.
I discovered along the way that pastors struggle like everyone else, maybe more. We have "issues" that the typical laity do not live with. I'm not talking about "sins that so easily beset." We all have those, and that goes without saying. But pastors have to deal with matters that go beyond the usual "besetting sin." I struggle with watching our church grow v-e-r-y slowly. I wish I had a more rapid answer, but I don't. I have to live with the fact that the church grows and goes at God's speed, not mine. I struggle with not always knowing the best, most effective way to reach the community with the gospel. I wish all our methods worked, but they don't.
I struggle with not being able to visit all our people as often as I would like. I struggle with not always being as available, and thereby not always as close to our members as I want. I struggle with not being able to help them past their personal problems. I struggle with all the things I wish I could do to help, but can't. I watch them suffer needs, go through difficulties and endure pain. I feel utterly helpless at times. Of all people, I should be able to help, But too often, I can't.
In a word, I struggle with my own inadequacy. How often I've thought of Paul's question, "Who is sufficient for these things?" and I've answered, "Not me, that's for sure."
This is one struggle I do not expect to overcome. I'm glad I have a patient and kind church who understands and accepts that they have a most imperfect pastor. I have to keep reminding myself that pastors are always at their best when they are at their weakest. It's at that point that we all have to throw ourselves unreservedly on the Lord - or else we would leave the ministry. But thankfully, Paul said one more thing that keeps us going: "When I am weak, then I am made strong." If Paul had his struggles too, at least I'm in good company.

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