Seven Sundays!

Counting today, I have seven Sundays left as a pastor. June 30th will be my last day in the pulpit here at Redeemer Christian Fellowship. Given the financial situation of the church, and things that are going on in my life, I’ve decided to step down from the pastorate and move back to Texas.

I’m hoping to find a job in the business world doing something that I am suitable for, but I’m not sure what that is right now. I know the LORD has something for me and I know that it will be a difficult transition. I’m not shying away from it and thank the LORD that I have been a pastor for the past 12 years in the Presbyterian Church in America.

I wish that I could give future and present pastors some great insight into what I have learned and how to avoid the pitfalls. But I cannot. God has allowed pitfalls individually tailored for each pastor and each pastor has to face each pitfall for himself. Some of the pitfalls you will avoid by God’s grace, and some of them you will jump into with both feet. The only hope you have is to keep your eyes on Him and asked Him for His wisdom in navigating each one as they arise.

Many pastors like to think that they will avoid the pitfalls and be wise enough to go around them on their own. But in thinking that, you underestimate your own sinfulness. It is only by God’s grace that we avoid the ones we see, and come through the ones we jumped into. It is only by His hand that we survive all the trials, temptations and disappointments of the ministry. It is only by God’s grace that I’ve lasted 12 years in the ministry. It is only by God’s grace that ANY man is called into the ministry as a pastor.

I look forward to returning to the work force in Texas. I look forward to finding a church where the word is faithfully preached and just letting God’s word restore my broken and disappointed heart. I look forward to what many know as a “normal” weekend where my livelihood is not wrapped up in what happens on Sunday mornings. I look forward to sitting at Christ’s feet in worship, the same way Mary did so many years ago. I look forward to resting in Him, the One who takes the broken and restores them.

As I write this, I have seven more Sundays to lead in worship, seven more sermons, seven more Sunday schools to prepare for. This is really hard because I’m empty. I’ve hit this point before in my ministry and it was only by His grace that I was restored. But for now, there isn’t much left. I’m tired of ministry. I’m tired of preaching. I’m tired of hearing my own voice. I’m tired of disappointments and frustrations. I’m tired of this life and would be just fine if the LORD chose to come back now. I don’t think He will, but I’m OK if He does.

Those of you who are not in the ministry, pray for your pastors. They need the prayer. They need God’s Spirit to carry them along in the work they have been called to. I know many joke about pastors only working one hour a week. I get that. But they also toil during the week and face countless pitfalls. Pray for them. Encourage them, and remember that sometimes the best thing you can do for your pastor is to thank him for what he does.

As we were sitting in the board meeting last week, discussing the fact that the church was laying off the entire staff (not closing, mind you,) one of the ladies turned to me and said, “I’m glad you came here. I was really starving spiritually until you arrived.” That was the best thing anyone could have said. So don’t wait until your pastor is leaving. Say it to them and remind them how important their call is.

For those pastors who have chosen to faithfully preach God’s word, as opposed to sell out to marketing gimmicks, they have the most important jobs in the world. The faithful pastor is called to preach spiritual truths that lead to spiritual life and eternity with Christ. There is no more noble calling. But it is not an easy calling.

So pray for them and be thankful for the ones who know that it’s more important to preach God’s word than it is to become a family therapist. Being a family therapist is far easier and it pays more. However those family therapists who pose as pastors should be damned. They have no place in the pulpit. Let us support them men who don’t give into the world’s calling, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, but remain faithful to preach Christ and Him crucified. I pray that I was faithful in doing just that these past 12 years, and for the next seven Sundays.

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18 thoughts on “Seven Sundays!

  1. wow! caught me by surprise! I have learned from and enjoyed your post immensely. Will you also be dropping the post site?
    I hope and pray there is no root of bitterness in your decision!!

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    1. No, not bitterness about leaving the ministry or my time here. I’m trusting the LORD in all of it and know He has something for me. Hopefully I will be suited for the next phase of life.

      I have no plans of dropping the site, although, I may not post on it quite as much.

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  2. Sondra

    I have enjoyed your posts whether they lacked wisdom or were filled with wisdom, truth, & insight. I always learned something. God’s blessings for your future… we can be assured, because He is faithful!

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  3. I am so sorry about your church. It could happen to anyone.
    I am however committed to hearing your blogging. I think I enjoy your blogs better when we disagree a bit.
    Praying for you and yours,

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  4. Great post Timothy. I pray that your time in being a normal member of a congregation will be refreshing to you. One of the benefits I’ve found in being an itinerant preacher is that I get to spend one Sunday a month at our home church as a normal member of the congregation. It is always refreshing, and i always look forward to it. You have spent so much time ministering to others (including me) over the past decade-plus, I hope that spending this time new season of being ministered to will strengthen and bless you beyond measure.

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  5. So pray for them and be thankful for the ones who know that it’s more important to preach God’s word than it is to become a family therapist. Being a family therapist is far easier and it pays more. However those family therapists who pose as pastors should be damned. They have no place in the pulpit. Let us support them men who don’t give into the world’s calling, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, but remain faithful to preach Christ and Him crucified. I pray that I was faithful in doing just that these past 12 years, and for the next seven Sundays.

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  6. On a serious note, as a young pastor I’m reading this very soberly. I’m with my congregation as a member for 12 years and I’m so exhausted even though its my first year full time. I will keeping you in prayer… I want to ask that you pray for me as well.

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    1. Slim,
      Will do. Be sure and take the time off allotted to you. You need the rest. Are you an assistant or the senior? The typical call alotes for four weeks vacation and two weeks study leave (not always). But those times need to be guarded. Some guys try to sacrifice themselves and forget that they are not useful to God in doing so. The ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. So make sure you guard those times.

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  7. Kathy Gillespie

    I heard today in church that you were leaving the ministry. After reading your blog I feel so sad that it has been such a struggle. My heart and prayers go out to you. This also chills me with the thought of our pastor could be discouraged enough to leave. Finally in my Christian life I have had the joy of being led by a man who proclaims the gospel, teaches doctrine and stands strong for the reformed faith. I am now reminded to not stop praying for him, to be as encouraging as possible, and to be obedient to his Biblical leading. Keep blogging I like to read and learn from you and want to know and hear of your healing process, slow or fast, as the Spirit leads.

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    1. Hi Kathy,
      Thanks for the kind words. I know that God has me stepping down for a while and I’m looking forward to it. Given that your husband is a pastor, remember that your marriage to him is so vital for him to keep his ministry. The two are vitally linked together. It sounds like you are taking the right steps for him.
      Blessings.

      BTW, forgive me if I should know, but what church are you with?

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