A Pastor’s Pain
Many people may believe they know what a pastor’s pain is in their ministry and life. They may believe it is the member who knows it all and makes sure the pastor knows the best way to perform his ministry. They may believe it is the one who constantly complains about everything, the music is too loud, too soft, it is too old, it is too new, we have never done it that way before. They may believe it is the one who talks behind the pastor’s back about him. They may believe it is the person who says the pastor before this one was so much better. The list is long that could cause a pastor pain but while all these and many more may cause a pastor discomfort and pain they are not a pastor’s pain.
A pastor’s pain is when he stands before Jesus and looks Him in the eye and Jesus asks him, “Feed My sheep”, and the pastor has to say to Him, “I am sorry, the sheep you gave me to feed I lost”. The pastor says to Jesus, “They left the house you gave me to watch over”. They left for what they believe were good reasons. They left because someone spoke harshly to them, someone didn’t talk to them, someone didn’t agree with them, someone changed the way the church was run, someone changed the music, someone sat in their pew, someone hurt them, and someone changed my church. The list could go on and on of the reasons for someone leaving the church. Each one of those reasons seemed like a good reason to leave. The problem lies in that the church is thought of as a country club rather than a hospital. The church is a hospital and each patient has their own particular health problem and some have more difficult cases needing more care and takes more time of the doctors and nurses and staff of the hospital. But each needs to be in the hospital or they will never get better. Each one needs to be there because they may have set backs and need more treatment. No, wait, each needs to be there because they WILL have a set back and DEFINITELY need more treatment, just like the pastor.
Now you may be wondering what does this have to do with a pastor’s pain. A pastor’s pain is that no matter the reason that a person leaves the church he is pastoring, it is his fault. It is his fault because he didn’t act or maybe he did act and it was the wrong action. A pastor is called to feed the sheep of God and when the sheep leave it is his fault. Jesus has asked a pastor to “Feed My sheep” and a pastor who loses His sheep believes it is his fault and no matter what it is up to him to make sure that does not happen and when they leave that is a pastor’s pain. It may not be realistic or true but that does not matter to the pastor, he believes it is his FAULT.
Now, having said all that I have not written this to receive your sympathy. I have written this to let you know that as you look at your pastor know he is constantly carrying this pain with him wherever he goes and no matter how many churches he may pastor, he will remember every one of those people who left on his watch. Even though people come and go in a church it does not matter each loss is pain in the heart of a pastor and can never be removed. A pastor lives with this pain every day of his life and will live with it until the day he dies. Please know that this is written in love so that you can hopefully understand when a pastor may be depressed or hurting or burning out and may say things in anger or frustration often times it is because the pain never goes away. May God bless you wherever you hear the Word of God and with the freedom that Jesus brings through His sacrifice and forgiveness. God Bless you all.
Pastor Randy Johnson
Ash Wednesday brings to mind the image of dust and especially dust bunnies because of the words said during the imposition of ashes: Genesis 3:19b “for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Dust is something that also comes to mind in my house when you think of spring (not my wife’s fault, LOL). One of the first things that is done when spring gets here and the weather finally warms up. We open windows and let the wind blow through the house. As the wind comes through you see all the dust and dust bunnies stir and seem to come to life.
When you think of the dust of ashes it is not a particularly uplifting image. If the oak tree is the symbol of strength and permanence, dust is the symbol decay, death, and destruction. It is not hard to grasp this feeling of being here one moment and gone the next. Dust is something that can be swept up and tossed away. It can be forgotten, thought of no more and even erased from the world as if it never existed. This causes us to think of our own mortality.
Sitting down to reflect on our own mortality is about as much fun as thinking about dust bunnies. However, as Christians, the Good News is that we do so within the context of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s resurrection. Ashes and dust is not the end of the story. For Christians, death is merely a temporary state, as transient as dust itself. We pass through death into the new life that we share with the resurrected Christ. Which doesn’t mean that death is without regret or pain or grief. We are human after all and we do not want to see our loves ones die or want to rush into death ourselves. But the dust of the grave is not our final destination, it is merely a transition from life on earth to the life of eternity with God.
Dust usually comes about in one of two ways. First, through inactivity. You can find this dust in places in your home that you hardly ever go. You find it in places, like that storage closet, that you almost never use. This dust came about because nothing happens. That is strange when you think about it.
There is also another way to create dust: through activity. That’s how those dust bunnies in your bedroom came to be. Through the activity of everyday life, you create dust. It comes in on your shoes or through the dogs or cats or your clothes; it’s formed when you take that cookbook off the shelf to find a recipe for that great potluck hot dish you are taking to the potluck meals at church on Wednesday night Lenten services. If you are not kicking up some dust, you are not really living.
Consequently, there are two ways to create dust: through inactivity or through activity. The best way to create dust and show the world the love Jesus Christ has for them and us is through being active. This dust happens when you reach out to a friend who’s hurting. When you volunteer your time to touch the life of a child by tutoring him/her. You kick up dust when you sacrifice an afternoon to work on a Habitat for Humanity house. You kick up dust both figuratively and literally. Jesus encourages us to kick up some dust every chance we get to show the world that He truly cares for them. Roll up our sleeves and get involved with the world and the people around us. We might get a bit dirty every once in a while, but that’s okay. Because through our relationship with Jesus we are cleansed and renewed and dusted off. May God Bless you all with His love and strength. Let the dust bunnies flow from the work of Jesus Christ through you.
Pastor Randy Johnson
St. John Lutheran Church
8757 N. Straits Hwy.
Cheboygan, MI 49721
Service times: Saturday NEW TIME 5:00 PM, Sunday at 8:30am and 11am. Please come and join the family of God.
Right Where We Are! …and there he worshiped the LORD – Genesis 13:4
Abraham builds an altar and right there he worshiped the LORD. He didn’t have the latest and greatest church building or technological advancement to show God just how into God he was at the time. Abraham had a bunch of rocks piled on top of one another and that was good enough.
Technology is almost available in every church now and it becomes so easy to get caught up in the production and forget that technology is only a tool best left under God’s supervision. Technology is no more than that pile of rocks that Abraham had back then. Worship is not about a rock, or a piece of electrical equipment. In fact, it is not about the music or the voices or the instruments; these are simply conduits granted by God for human expression of worshipping a God who has given us the gifts of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life in paradise with Him.
Worship is not about being traditional, contemporary or a workable blend of the two. Every generation adds or subtracts or preserves worship.
Worship is not about whether we kneel, sit, stand, or whether or not we raise our hands or leave them by our sides. It’s not about our eyes being open or closed. To put it bluntly, worship is not about us at all or what we get out of worship.
Worship is much simpler, much truer, than that. It is a deliberate action that does not need anything but our willing hearts engaging God’s heart.
It is one-on-one, heart-to-heart, alone or in a crowd, it is giving Him the honor and glory due Him regardless of our circumstances. Regardless of our feelings. Regardless of what else might be demanding our time and attention.
The world is constantly demanding more and more of our time and the one who suffers for that is not God, it is us. We suffer because we allow the world to draw us away from the only One who can truly help us with the life we live here on earth. We need God’s power and strength for life. We need His forgiveness. We need Him to show us what true love is all about. True love is selfless. Jesus showed us that love when He went to the cross to free us from everything that separated us from God. Jesus has showed us what true love is, it is giving of oneself for the lifting up of others. Let Jesus lift you up so you can lift up others. Worship the One True King, Jesus Christ.
Pastor Randy Johnson