It is hard to be a Christian pastor. Whether one is called preacher, reverend, or pastor, it is difficult. Why is it difficult? Well, the angle that I am looking at today is how other people have voiced their understanding of my position as an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church.
When I have made visits to individuals’ homes, there has been the impression that I am there to make them feel guilty. That is not how I approach the visit. If I have not noticed someone in church, then I am authentically making a visit to see how things are going. It is from a position of concern for the individual/couple/family that I make such a visit. If there are concerns about something in the life of that particular local church, then I want to know. If the household has been experiencing health concerns, then I want to be able to pray for them – especially if I have just heard this news! There might be times that I make a visit to a home to ask someone to be part of a ministry.
Other than visits where people presume the pastor is trying to make them feel guilty, there is the perception of family, friends, and even church people, that I am judging them for whatever they are doing. Wow! I can discern that a situation may have pitfalls. I can discern from my life how I have done things. I can even discover how people decide to make a decision. I do not judge people in such a fashion that I am condemning them for all time. I will pray for the light the light of Christ to shine in their situation, that they would experience God’s love and mercy, and that they would make good decisions. This discernment comes from a genuine concern for their lives. I want more people to experience the good that God has for them. I do not want people to experience the anguish, heartbreak, and pain that some decisions bring.
Where did I learn such a way of thinking and living? My parents raised me to go to church, to worship God. This God, who sent Jesus Christ into the world to save us from our sin, our bad decisions, wants us to know the good he has for us. When we ignore him, then we find out some hard lessons in life. When we follow God, then we find out that God is with us, even helping us, when the hard times come. God does not want us to experience anguish, heartbreak, and pain that some decisions bring. I think he has been teaching that so I may encourage people to avoid the decisions that lead to these troublesome times.
God is concerned about us. He is patient with us. He wants us all to know him and follow him. And yet we all make decisions that separate us from God. The quicker we learn to follow God’s ways of love, mercy, and patience, the sooner we will be able to realize how precious we are to him!
Yes, it is hard to be a pastor. But I am going to keep on following God as he is the one who has called me preach about Jesus Christ; he is the one who has called me to be a Christian. That is God has called me to be Christ-like in how I live. I will just have to keep on loving people, as Jesus loves me, no matter how often I am judged for seeming to judge others.