Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's about time I get back on track with this vacation stuff. Last time I was knee deep in mullets (that just sounds dirty). After we left Eureka we drove to the middle of no where located roughly the mid 90s. The next day I preached for Father's day and everyone said I did a great job. After that we were in a parade and then my wife, daughters, and youngest son went to Southern CA.

The next day I had my first real day off in ages. Normally I have something going on even on my day off. I was able to read 2 whole books from my "must read pile" that is getting bigger faster than I can read them. Soon the list will resemble a book in length.

I got to spend time with my son while my FIL was at work and made grilled venison steaks for dinner. I think that was the best and healthiest meal we ate while on this vacation.

I also got to talk with my FIL after dinner. He is a pastor and the previous church was pretty bad. They really drove him into the ground and even though his current church is great to them he feels like he will be leaving the ministry for good soon. I feel like he is right because he doesn't have a pastor's heart anymore.

I'm not sure how long it takes before a pastor loses his heart. I'm not sure if every pastor loses his heart. I do know that too many have but don't even know it. I think the first sign is the way they "help" other ministers. Job had it rough, but I think the most unbearable part was the "support" he got from his friends. "Go curse God and die." Yeah that's some good advice there.

The problem is, I feel like the advice I get from most pastors is pretty much the same. I talked to my FIL about the things I am dealing with in the church. The frustration and heartache. I thought he would get it because of what he went through. He did get it of course, but instead of just listening and sharing my burden he said, "welcome to the ministry."

The odd part is that lots of pastors and former pastors have conveyed similar condolences to me. Even before I got into ministry they would say things like, "the first time you wake up on Monday morning feeling like you are a complete failure and should quite then you will know you are a pastor."

Sure that might be part of the experience, but does the cynical response have to be part of the experience? Aren't we called to something more? Didn't Jesus say they would know we are His because of our love for each other? I'm pretty sure that the callousness is not exhibiting love.

Right now I pray that no matter how hurt I get, that I will still see the hurt in others and be drawn to love them.

Ministers out there, have you experienced this "counsel" from other ministers? Have you given this "encouragement?" Everyone else, have you told your pastor how much you appreciate him/her? They need it you know.


Marni said...

I'm no minister, so take what I see with a grain of salt...

Right now I pray that no matter how hurt I get, that I will still see the hurt in others and be drawn to love them. your sentence says it all.

I've been a part of two church splits (same church, ironically enough). It's painful and just...I don't know...stupid. I mean, we are children of the risen God, and we act like the rest of the world when we get mad at each other. But I digress. The only thing I can assume right now that God has been trying to teach me through these 2 splits is that I am to see the hurt in others and do something about it. I'm to have compassion because I see so little of it when churches are unhealthy.

I hope what you are walking through teaches that to you as well because being compassionate to someone who hurts is a blessing there are no words for.

Still praying my friend...

Marni said...

"say" not "see".

I have sherri-itis today ;-)

Wendy said...

I'm not a pastor. I don't even play one on t.v. But as a former volunteer high school group worker, I feel for ya. It is draining. And doing it full time? Sheesh! It's a shame that pastors don't build each other up more. I'm sure you'll remember this time when later in life another pastor comes to you feeling beaten down...

Helen said...

Okay, another never been a minister comment. But I was a teacher. And sometimes it is draining. I won't list reasons. Some teachers give cynical responses to a struggling teacher.

My response to a struggling teacher? Some days are tough, and you hope Jesus is coming REALLY soon (like by the end of the day, preferably before lunch), and other days are filled with such love and joy that you wish there was more time during the day to teach them and prepare them for life. Either way, pray to be the teacher they need day by day.

I think it has to be acknowledged by the more experienced person that sometimes we feel like we are in over our head, but to trust in God's help, because things do get better.

Holly Brennan said...


I HATE it when people give you cliches at the time when you are hurting most. When you have the most pain and questions. When you are clinging to a few threads at the end of the rope (not saying you are). But they sagely offer them up, at the time when you are being the most real and transparent.

"Welcome to the ministry."

"God's got it under control."

I'm getting ready to work full-time overseas with a "Jesus organization" (avoiding usage of a particular m-word that rhymes with fission for security).

One of my pastors has been completely encouraging. In fact, he was the one who sent me opportunities and really prayed me through the application process.

The other - well, when I told him that I was going to Thailand, he just shook his head. "Oh, Holly-girl, I sure hope you don't get discouraged."

To be frank, I was pretty dismayed. I felt like I'd just had an ice-cold cooler of water dumped over my head, and I had visions of myself quitting, and giving up before I even got there.

So yeah. I've seen both.

I guess that my prayer continues to be like Brandon Heath's song, "Give Me Your Eyes" (which was had a huge impact on me as I went through all this):

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken-hearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see.

Praying for you.

jasonS said...

Well, I'm a minister. Yeah, I've heard this advice before. It is disheartening though the person who told it to me (I don't believe) was being cynical. I had told how I reached out to someone, fed them, let them stay at my house, stayed up all night talking to try to help and they ran off, did something stupid, and ended up worse than before. I said something to the effect that I didn't want to do that again, which is when I got the "welcome to pastoral ministry."

That was years ago and it stuck with me because I began to see that this is what Jesus did for us. He gave Himself completely and mine is not to question or demand guarantees but to love as Jesus would love. Yes, I'll get hurt again (already have many times). I'm not saying a flippant, cynical answer is okay, but there is something comforting that all pastors go through this heartache and keeping your eyes on Jesus pulls you through.

Nick the Geek said...

Thank you. You have really helped me the past couple weeks. I am so sorry that you have been caught in the middle like that. It gives me new perspective on the ones caught in the middle here.

Many pastor's do build each other up, but I think mostly they all need building up and so end up not giving what they need when around other pastors.

You are so right. Thanks

You need to hunt down a post I wrote about my darkest time. I think if you search for "black hole" you will find it. Well meaning phrases are bound to get people punched when said at the wrong time. While I was in Bible College I had many profs tell me just that. I think they were afraid of all us young idealistic ministers in training would run out and get our collective butts kicked and then come back crying, but there has to be a better way.

I know my FIL wasn't being hateful about it but he is so burned that he can't see past his own pain anymore. Anyways, that is a great take on things.

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