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.