Hey pastor/ministry leader–you’re doing alright.
There are about ten thousand voices filling your inbox, voicemail, text messages, social media feeds, podcast lists, and blog post feeds; and they’re all screaming your shortcomings. You’re not focused enough on mercy, culture, mission, theological precision, counselling, and so on. Hearing, “you are doing alright” can seem like just another bark in a sea of chihuahuas, but…
You’re doing alright.
You see, there are probably a million things you could do differently, focus on more, reorganize or otherwise make more efficient, but you aren’t there yet. Maybe you’ll never be there and that is totally okay.
You’re doing alright.
Experts, or so called experts, describe all the ways your skill-set is defective for the task at hand. You’re not preaching currently, teaching correctly, or pastoring and counselling with the newest approaches. You’re not reading the right books or studying the right material. Maybe they are right. Maybe you’re not reading the right stuff or are sharp enough in an area of your performance.
Just know you’re doing alright.
You’re doing alright because somehow you’ve found yourself reading these words of encouragement. You’re over here probably needing a rest from the relentless barrage of information, responsibilities, and tasks. Like a salmon swimming upstream all day, you’ve found a place to rest behind a rock and are grabbing a breather.
You’re doing alright.
I’m never content enough with the station the Lord has me in. I always peek around the car in front of me on the highway to see what is coming up. I’m like the salmon who should just rest behind the rock, but won’t because they want to see what’s next. I’m not content and I am tired. Tired, not just in the sense of needing more sleep, but tired behind-my-eyes tired. “Gray hair in my early 30s” tired. Unable to think of what to say in the present, but always looking to tomorrow tired.
The pressure of the barrage of information in my role as pastor reveals my failing, imperfections, and weakness like the wind reveals jagged rocks beneath the sand in the desert. I can’t hide from it and all I seem to be able to do is see the ways I do not measure up and am not doing it right. I’m able to show and extend grace to others, but not for myself. My acceptance is based on performance because I work “for” God.
Sound familiar? Or is it just me again?
He’s Proven O’er and O’er
The classic line, “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him, how he’s proven o’er and o’er,” in the classic hymn cut through an enthusiastic atmosphere in our auditorium with the precision of an arrow into the center of its target. The opening of our Vacation Bible School seemed to the Lord to be the opportune time to shoot this pastor in the heart.
Could it be that I was finally seeing that on the cutting edge wasn’t where God was most pleased with me, but that simply being a faithful pastor doing goofy dances at a Vacation Bible School was more than enough. My performance isn’t what endears me to him, his love for me does. With all of my weakness, inexperience, failures, and tiredness, he not only draws me nearer to him, but is faithful to stay with me. He’s proven o’er and o’er, always faithful to bring me hope in darkness, to hold me in his grasp while I fought and fought him.
I don’t need to be beaten down by the barrage of information surrounding me, I can simply be God’s free man (Gal 2:19-20, 5:1).
You can simply be God’s free man or woman too. Exhale. Stop. Listen. Feel. Notice the world around you. It’s His and he’s got it in his hands. Your church, your ministry, your responsibilities, your future, your past, your present–it’s all in control.
Now, I know there is a knee-jerk reaction to say, “Well, I need. I have to. I am a part of God’s work.” You are, but unless you get the truth that the Kingdom of God will roll on magnificently without you–and can not just only be okay with that but celebrate it–you’ve missed the point.
Jesus is totally pleased with you. You’re doing alright.
I know exponentially more pastors who work their tails off, than are lazy. If you’re reading this far you’re probably one of them and you need to hear again that Jesus is totally pleased with you while you sleep just as much as he is when you’re preaching the gospel, or counselling, or caring, or nurturing, or doing anything ministry-related. And who are you oh man or woman, to argue with him?
Vessel of Beauty
We have a platter on display in our home that is so beautiful it doesn’t need to have food served on it to bring me joy. Sure, when we serve food on it, it’s lovely, but the work it does for me doesn’t make it beautiful; serving food from it is just a glorious bonus. In the same way, God is pleased in the vessel of beauty he’s created in you; whether you work for him or not, he’s pleased (Rom 9:23).
Hey pastor, ministry leader, Christian. You’re doing alright.