This month I celebrate being in the ministry for thirty-five years. Yes, I started preaching when I was five years old…LOL. Honestly, I preached my first sermon on October 31st when I was fourteen. I began pastoring in my mid-twenties and wow, did ministry ever change when that happened. The transition that took place when I started shepherding people was life-altering. I had spent several years preaching to encourage people and building their faith, but now I was responsible for their growth in the Word of God. This was and still is a tremendous load to carry.
There are many things I could say about being in ministry and leading people, but this week my mind has been on what I call “THE TWO SIDES OF AMAZEMENT” in pastoring. It may seem like a strange thing to say, but give me a moment to explain.
On the first side is being amazed by the personal growth I see in certain individuals. I look around at my congregation and see men and women of all ages working and worshiping in the church. Young people who are operating computers, cameras, and lights for production in every service. Volunteers that help out from opening doors, teaching children, making coffee for guests, and receiving our tithes and offerings. Cleaning, singing, playing, driving, and the list goes on and on. On this side, I stand amazed at how some people not only live up to their potential, but they exceed. I can promise you when a pastor sees this kind of amazement; it makes our job so much easier and fulfilling. I can’t tell you the times I’ve left a church service in complete awe of something I saw from someone that made me so proud, and yes, it left me amazed.
THE OTHER SIDE:
I don’t really want to talk about the other side, but it’s been heavy on my mind for the last few days, and maybe there’s a reason I’m writing about it. You’ll always have drifters that will come and go in your church. Those people don’t amaze me because they never stay long enough to build up your expectations. However, there are individuals that you see great potential in, and you start to visualize where you can place them to make an impact in your vision for the organization. They’re talented, gifted, and needed, so you start making plans. Some of them even tell you of how passionate they are about the church and how much they want to be involved. There are also young people that grow up in the church, and you’ve been able to invest in them as children, so you get ready to prepare them for the next level. But then…yes, unfortunately, you’re completely let down as they start to live beneath their potential, and what’s especially hard to deal with, is they seem to be content.
These actions leave you in total amazement. They start missing church or consistently showing up late, and some just stop coming altogether. You text or call them, and there is always a good reason or explanation, at least the ones who respond. Some are newer in their relationship with the Lord and don’t realize how important it is to remain faithful, but many of them know better. That is the other side of amazement, and it is tough to deal with as a pastor. You not only struggle because they’re not helping in the church, but as their shepherd, you see what God can do with their ability, but sadly, it will never happen as long as they continue to live below their potential.
I don’t have all the answers on how to deal with those on the other side of amazement, but I am reminded that Jesus dealt with the same thing with His disciples. After leading and loving them for three and a half years, only one disciple was standing at the cross when He was dying, and his name was John. That had to be heartbreaking and disappointing for Jesus.
The Bible tells us that in the last days these things would take place, that people would be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. I just find it difficult for that to happen to somebody who knows we’re living in the end times. The power of deception must be stronger than we even realize.
I have read that hundreds of pastors resign and some completely give up ministry every month, and I can promise you, the other side of amazement has a lot to do with that. Maybe a pastor will read this and realize he is not alone in the frustration. I will remind you of this one thing; our reward is not in people, our reward is in Heaven if we preach the truth to people. What they decide is not on us, but what they hear is.