Being a pastor is hard work. Much of what makes the pastorate so difficult is dealing with the many challenging issues people face in their lives. From marital struggles, to addictions, to significant health issues, to tragedies and heartaches of all kinds, and of course, to deep spiritual issues, the work of ministry never stops. As I was reminded this week, the calling to be a pastor is a demanding calling, one that is three hundred and sixty-five days of the year, twenty-four hours a day, and seven days a week. It is never-ending, all-consuming work.
There are great rewards to the pastorate as well. In the ministry, pastors get to see marriages healed, addictions overcome, healing take place, new life come to families, lives restored, and most importantly, people giving their lives to Christ. There is nothing greater than celebrating the goodness and grace of God with the congregants in your church. Even though the work of ministry is never-ending and demanding, it is also filled with unbelievable benefits and joys.
Just a few weeks ago, I was having breakfast with a church member, which I often do, and this man and I were talking through a difficult issue he was having with another person in our church. Conflict in our church is rare, but it does happen, and when it does, I seek to help church members resolve it as soon as I am aware of it. This conflict was deep and sometimes with such deep conflict, people can take the easy road and just choose to leave the church. I, of course, did not want to see this happen. Every pastor is concerned about his church members, but pastors also recognize that they cannot force people to do what is right, and sadly, sometimes people just choose to leave. Having people leave your church for no good reason, especially without making attempts to resolve things, is very discouraging to pastors.
But, this man said something to me that really ministered to my heart. As we got started in the conversation, he said, “Now pastor, I just want you to know, ‘I’m not going anywhere.’” Did you catch those four words, “I’m not going anywhere?” He went on to say that he loves the Lord, his pastor, and the church too much to let anything cause him to leave. This was such a breath of fresh air to me, and knowing the desire of his heart made our conversation go much better. We talked, worked toward a resolution, and things are fine now between him and the person he was in conflict with, because they have resolved it.
As I reflected on my conversation with my friend, I did not realize how much four simple words would mean to me. Sometimes when I am unsure what a person will do, it creates anxiety and has the potential to make me approach things from a more defensive perspective, but when I know that a person is committed to the Lord, the church, and the church’s leadership, it is amazing the freedom it gives my heart. When two people are on the same team, they need to be on the same page, but if you are not sure you are on the same team, it is easy to never get on the same page. There is simply something refreshing and encouraging when you know, that no matter what, a person is not going anywhere. As in all relationships, when there is deep commitment and trust, those relationships will flourish and grow.
This week, out of the blue, send your pastor a message, whomever he is, and just say, “Hey pastor, I just want you to know, ‘I’m not going anywhere.’” These four words will encourage your pastor’s heart greatly. Now, do not just say them, really mean them. In good times, or bad times, and easy times, or challenging times, make sure your pastor hears these words from you, “I’m not going anywhere.”