An Open Book

(In this posting I use the terms him or he, but I mean them in a generic sense meaning either him or her or he or she.)

The life of a pastor is a different life.  Yes, it means working with people, guiding and instructing people.  It means being with people during their high points, and their low points.  Lots of hospital visits, more than a few funerals and weddings too.  Praying for the sick, listening to complaints, and burdens.  But, I’m not sure that is the most challenging aspect of pastoring.  I can think of at least two areas that are more difficult than those listed above:

1)  The Buck stops here – Generally, when people get into trouble or need someone to lean on, or need guidance they go to the pastor.  Now, who does the pastor go to?  While there may be help from fellow ministers and those who are above you in the ministerial ranks, typically the pastor has God to lean on.  I remember as a young pastor praying in the church.  No one was around, and my prayer went something like this, “Lord, everyone here has me to go to when they have trouble.  Who do I have to go to?”  About that time, I heard a voice as distinct as any human voice say to me, “I will take care of you, lean on me.”  So, I did.

2)  An open book – The life of a pastor is somewhat an open book.  By that, I mean when a pastor is down, ill, encouraged, discouraged, it is hard to hide.  Pastor’s take blows from life and the enemy the same as everyone else, but he is expected to bear it all, with grace.  He is expected to never lose his temper, get discouraged, or complain.  But, of course, he is not super-human.  He gives out guidance and advice, but is susceptible to all the things his own members encounter, plus a few more.  Regardless of what is happening in his own life he must still have the strength and fortitude to deliver a stirring message come Sunday morning.

But, this is not to say that the life of a pastor is without reward.  But, for the most part, the largest part of the reward of pastoring lies beyond this life.  The true pastor is called of God to perform a task.  Yes, there are many pastor’s called by men, and there are some who appoint themselves, but the true pastor is one who has been called of God.

Pastoring is a bit like being married.  No one can tell you what marriage is really like until you yourself become married.  You can see others who are married.  You can live in a home with married people.  You can get advice from other married couples, but it is still not the same as being married yourself.  The same is true with pastoring.  You can be raised in a pastor’s home, from your birth, and think you know what pastoring is all about, but you don’t.  Yes, you can learn from others, and gain valuable experience, but until you’ve worn the mantle yourself you can’t know the full meaning.

The true pastor carries a heavy load.  He must carry not only the load of his own life, but the lives of other people, as well.  This load never lessens, and never lets up.  People may betray the pastor, but he is always available to help in time of need.  His compassion knows no bounds, and he doesn’t count the wrongs against him.  When someone calls for help he is available.  He forgives, not because someone has apologized, but because he doesn’t have the time or energy to carry grudges or resentments.

Contrary to what some may think or believe the true pastor loves ALL the people of his flock.  Not only the good, and kind, and lovable ones, but the bad, harsh, and unlovable ones, too.

But, going back to my title – this open book thing is quite a heavy load to carry.  Most of our lives are not open for public inspection, but the pastor’s is.  He is on-call 24/7.  If he stumps his toe at 9am, by 11am most of the world already knows about it, and has made a judgment about it.

But, nevertheless, the true pastor marches on.  Not to receive a reward from man, but from God.  Not to receive an acceptance from man, but from God, Himself.  Not pleasing himself, or men, but pleasing God.  Looking to the heavens for his reward, given by the Master, at the time appointed.

One Response to “An Open Book”

  1. Bea McGuire Says:

    Spoken like a person of experience! This was a great blog and one that I appreciate. My husband often reminds me that what we are doing is for the eternal rewards and not here. When it gets really hard I have to focus on that statement. Thanks Brother Chuck. As always, a Word in due season! Blessings to you and yours……

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