Friday, October 26, 2012

It’s Good Work

“This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop he desires a good work.” 1 Timothy 3:1, NKJV

Did you know that the month of October is “Pastors Appreciation Month”? With that in mind, today’s devotional is a shout out to our pastor friends around the country and around the world. We appreciate who you are and what you do, it’s good work.

After graduating from Bible School we met with one of our instructors for some counsel as we sought God’s will for our future. We had some options facing us to either stay in the business world or pursue a future in ministry. This seasoned minister listened to us share our story and then asked a question that would change our lives forever. He asked, “If success were a guarantee, and money wasn’t an issue what would you want to do?” Immediately the answer came out of me, “No question about it I’d be a pastor, but doesn’t everybody?” He smiled and then politely said, “No, actually NORMAL people would never want to be a pastor.”

Well, that explains a lot. It must be the reason that I have a deep love for pastors-- all pastors, especially those who’ve been serving for decades.  Whether you’re the lead dog or you serve as a staff pastor in a church, you need to know that God sees what you do as good work, even though you are probably far from normal. In fact, there is nothing normal about what you do. Let’s think about it for a minute.

Normal people go to work for the money-- you go to work for one reason alone-- obedience. There’s no plan B for you. You’re called, you’re compelled, you’re committed and you’re a bit crazy because there is no guarantee that you are ever going to be paid well to do it. Actually you’ll spend your entire career apologizing for the little money that you do make.

You don’t have normal hours. You are expected to work 24-7-365 because when your people need you they need you NOW. Honestly most of them wonder what in the world you do all week long, because they only see you speak for a few minutes on the weekend. But, you run the daily business of the church, you manage your staff and volunteers, yet you set all that aside when an emergency happens. And emergencies happen all the time, because life happens all the time. And then, once your normal work week is done, you are expected to bring a fresh, God inspired message full of life, power and the Holy Spirit each and every weekend. So, no matter what you are doing throughout the week you always have that voice in the back of your mind saying, “Sunday’s coming....Sunday’s coming.”

You are not allowed to have normal expectations. You are expected to be an outstanding visionary, an eloquent communicator, a savvy fund-raiser, and a counselor’s-counselor. You need to be an MBA, a CPA, have a PHD, all the while you’re trying to hide the fact that you’re a little ADHD. You are expected to be the model spouse, the perfect parent of perfect children, and on top of that you need make time to be everyone’s friend. “Hey Pastor, what’s your cell number, let’s text, let’s have coffee, why didn’t you answer me right away on Facebook, where do you live, can I stop by?” Are you getting my drift here?

The criticism you receive isn’t normal. You get criticized for having vision, for bringing change, for not talking enough or for talking too much, or even for saying what needs to be said. You are criticized for making a decision and then criticized for not making a decision. You are criticized for being too spiritual and you are criticized for not being spiritual enough. But you’ve gotten used to it because you are the point person-- you’ve learned to take the punches and protect your family, your staff and volunteers from the cruelty of people who say the most hurtful things.

Your disappointments in life are not normal. You’ve been hurt deeply by the very people that you’ve been called to serve. Hurts that you have to keep between you and God because normal people won’t understand. You’ve poured your life into folks, got them back on their feet, healthy and whole and headed in the right direction only to have them tell you that God is “moving” them to another church. You’ve learned to smile and hide those hurts, you’ve learned to have tough skin while keeping a tender heart. You’ve learned to play hurt.

But pastor you need to know that all though you are not normal, you are incredibly special to God and the church family He has called you to serve. You have been graced by God to love His people the way He does. To be there for them through the highs and lows of life. To lead them and to feed them, and to produce fruit in their lives that will remain forever. You do something that normal people can’t do. So I want to thank you for answering the call. Thank you for those late nights in the emergency room and for those early morning counseling sessions over a cup of coffee. Thank you for laying your life down for the sheep. We appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. Because what you do really does matters, what you do is good work.

Say It: “Father, I thank you for our pastors. God we ask You to help all of them know how pleased You are with them and the good work they do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!”

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