Over the last five years that I've been involved in pastoral ministry, though there have been many times where I have experienced absolute joy, though there have have been many instances where I have been in utter amazement, and though there have been many occasions where I could do nothing else but stand in awe of God for the opportunity that he's given me...there have also been seasons of tremendous amounts of pain.
The pain of unreached goals. The pain of umet expectations. The pain of unresolved conflict. The pain of dissatisfied guests. The pain of disinterested attendees. The pain of disengaged members. The pain of poor systems. The pain of ineffective processes. The pain of inconsistent execution.
All of these pains have hurt.
They have caused me heartache, they have led to sleepless nights, and on several occasions, they have even led me to seriously consider quitting.
But none of the pains have hurt, hindered, or haunted me like the pain of...
Watching people choose to do things their way instead of God's way.
Financially. Relationally. Vocationally. Educationally. Physically.
To see people either consciously or unconsciously allow the desires of their flesh to displace the will of the Spirit absolutely crushes me.
Now, by no means do I believe that I get it right all the time, but to watch someone you love, care for, and are invested in get it wrong is devastating.
Not only does their wrong choice pain me, but what pains me even more is to watch them struggle through the negative consequences of their choice.
The truth is, going into the ministry, I grossly underestimated the emotional impact that pastoring people would have on me. I wrongly assumed that I would be able to disconnect myself from situations in time for me not to be so adversely affected.
So how am I learning to cope? So why have I not decided to quit? So how have I come to the resolution to continue?
I SEE JESUS.
I am so thankful that in the midst of my pain, the Holy Spirit has empowered me to look to the cross of Jesus Christ to see the Son of God suffering a pain that I will never understand so that I can be reassured that He knows the pain I'm going through and, more importantly, so I can be confident He is with me in that pain. Shepherding me as I shepherd.
I must remember, I am just an undershepherd. Christ is the Chief Shepherd, and it is His voice, not mine, that will ultimately bring the strays home!
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." John 10:27-28