…or between a rock and a hard place. You can call it whatever you like, but since returning from vacation I have felt like I have been drawn through a knothole, and I’m not quite all the way through! No point in going into what’s been going on, just suffice it to say that sometimes, pastoral ministry is not for the faint of heart.
In my former occupation as a police officer there were the motorcycle cops, which meant that for five to six months of the year, weather permitting, they were on their bikes. Problem was, ‘weather permitting’ was defined differently among officers. As a result, some were only going out on sunny days. This did not impress the ‘brass’, and in turn, a memo was sent out stating that ‘fair-weather riding’ was not the intent for using motorcycles.
Although I didn’t ride, I never wanted to be thought of as a ‘fair-weather’ anything, regardless of what I was doing. But I’m starting to wonder (especially these past two weeks) if my expectations for my ministry life mirrors the expectations I have for my own personal life. In other words, am I a ‘fair-weather disciple’ and in turn a ‘fair-weather pastor’?
In my heart I don’t want to be. Although I have been feeling really squeezed these past two weeks, there has been ‘juice’ that has come out of it. So what does the ‘juice’ look like?
I have had numerous people send unsolicited words of encouragement either in person, email or just call me. Both Sundays when I felt I had very little to give or felt completely unorganized, things went off without a hitch…especially with the delivery of my teaching. I have been sleeping well. In spite of the squeeze I’m having lots of opportunities to pray with people. And it is really feeling like Christmas for me.
But if I’m going to be honest, I would like all of that without the ‘squeeze’. Being squeezed is tiring, time consuming, rattles your insecurity buttons, floods you with doubts, and can make you a ‘not-so-fun-person’ to be with. And so yes, my natural inclination is to be a fair-weather pastor and disciple.
But I realize that it’s when I’m being squeezed that I have ample opportunity to see and feel God’s grace that is all around me. He’s got my full attention, that’s for sure! My prayers are more intense and to the point. The squeeze times make for a cheap education – no tuition fees at all! I learn and retain amazingly well! I am reminded in a beautiful way that there is a God, he notices me and he loves me!
I’m still attracted to the fair-weather life. Yes, I’m weak, but I am learning and I am growing. Would I trade these past two weeks. Well, right now I probably would. But I get what Paul meant when he said:
That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 10 NLT