Monday, April 23, 2012

Temptation of the Pastor

     Being a pastor is not easy. Sometimes I feel like I am always one sermon away from being fire. There are times when I feel like I a wasting my time preaching to people who do not care. These thoughts and others can lead the pastor to rethink his life and his work. It is even more difficult for the pastor who has a full-time ministry on part-time pay. Maybe I should go back to school and get a degree? Maybe I should get some vocational training so that I will have a career to fall back on if I have to leave the church? How should we respond when these thoughts come into our mind? How should we counsel ourselves?
Matthew 6: 25-34
     “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” 

     Rest here and forget about how you will provide for your family. God is your provision if you are doing His will.  

     Have you ever read “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu? Sun Tzu uses the phrase “put your back to the river.” The context is that if your army is out-number or facing a superior force then put your back to the river. In this way, the army will realize that there is no place to retreat to. It is victory of death. I think this is what we must do as pastors. We put our backs to the river- there is no retreat and there is no “fall back.” We must be completely dependent and fully committed to the battle and if the Lord does not bless then we will die. There is nothing else for us. We move forward to obtain for ourselves and to bring others into the Kingdom of God or we perish. There is nothing else. There are no other options. We must be single minded in this pursuit or we are unstable in all our ways and unfit to be in the war: Christ- His will- His Kingdom or utter destruction for us. There is nothing else.  This is full commitment. This is the violent taking the Kingdom by force- pressing in to obtain. If you are not fully committed and willing to set your back to the river then you are not fit to be in this battle. Get out. We must take the plow, set our face like flint, and never look back. Otherwise, we are not fit for this battle. Count the cost and realize this will cost you everything
     We are all going to die. This is not a comforting thought & I am not trying to be “macho.” I fear death and I do not want to die (esp. any time soon). The question is not how are we going to die but how are we going to live? For Christ or for self?

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