Grace Institute News
July 24, 2013
between a rock and a hard place
I think it is very possible for a pastor to spend their entire career in a state of perpetual guilt. Really. It isn't just because ministry is the kind of work that never completely feels done. It is often because we have two competing value systems in our heads that we don't reconcile. For instance, how many times have we lifted up suffering servants who gave their all in the mission, extolled pastors who "left it all on the field" and admired the motto, "I would rather burn out than rust out?" We even interpret scripture to support "losing our lives" in order to gain them. The impression is that anything less than giving everything to the church we serve is somehow falling short.
And then we go to a conference that talks about life balance. We hear how Jesus took time out and went into the wilderness. Pastors of mega-churches talk about how they learned the lesson of NOT giving everything to the church and cut back their hours to 45 a week. We read books on self-stewardship and wonder how to say "no" more often.
Talk about opposite mentalities!
When we embrace both of those value systems at the same time, the result is usually guilt. Trying to do everything to the point where we lose ourselves in daily emptying or trying to live every day in a balanced way usually doesn't work. If we understand biblical teaching, our lives aren't made up of just days, but seasons. In ministry, there are times in which we have to empty ourselves. But there are also times to refrain and pull back and restore. There is a need to find the "still waters" that God leads us to so our souls can be restored. But it takes a longer view than day to day. It takes more than just living a reactionary life. Asking for guidance from the Holy Spirit to assess the call of each season and communicating with those around us to increase understanding is a much wiser way to go. It takes some time to be aware and honest...but it'll help us sleep at night. That's worth it.
Executive VP, Pastor
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