I am so blessed to help pastor a church family who truly desires to see God glorified in their daily lives. I am so tremendously blessed in fact, that I routinely question why God allows me the privilege of being a part of it. Even though it’s challenging sometimes, more than anything else, God’s call for me to lead His people in corporate worship each week gives me great joy and fulfillment. It is out of a sense of undeserved blessing that the question comes, “Why me?”
That said, if I’m being completely honest, the question doesn’t come at random times. It usually comes after attempting something and failing miserably at it.
There’s the difficult conversation that has to be had and doesn’t go the way I thought it would go. It is much, much worse. There’s the new song I try out that encourages my heart deeply and I just know it will encourage and engage our congregation in the same way. Then the last note fades away without rousing applause to the Creator of the universe, but instead blank stares and deafening silence that says, “Was that it?”
There’s the counsel I give that sounded great in my head but makes no sense when the words tumble out of my mouth chaotically. I think I repeat myself sometimes just to see if the words tumble out a second time, maybe they’ll arrange themselves into an actual coherent thought.
And the biggest, “Why me?” comes when I speak ever so softly to the Lord, ashamed, discouraged, and frustrated, acknowledging the sin that I wrestled with again has defeated me again, at least on this side of Heaven. I have to tell God, what He already knows, that I chose my own selfish desires above His in some way. I feel like a child caught with his hand in a cookie jar and crumbs on his mouth. It’s in those moments that I ask God why He gives ME the privilege of helping pastor His people.
I don’t say all this so those kind folks in my church family who may read this can comment on how I do a good job, because the reality is that I’m probably a much worse shepherd and less faithful disciple of Jesus than most people realize. I don’t say all this so that the less tolerant people in my church family who may read this will take up lanterns and torches and form a search committee to find someone better.
I say all this because any contribution that I make towards my church family and to the Kingdom of God is absolutely 100% a result of God’s grace in my life and my ministry. It’s never because of what I do or what I say. More often than not, it’s in spite of what I do or say that God is glorified as He accomplishes His purpose in His people. I’ll say that again, just in case this is one of those times that the words need to be rearranged as they come out of my mouth, or in this case onto my laptop: GOD is glorified as HE accomplishes HIS purpose in HIS people. I’m not even in that sentence!
As a pastor, I have the privilege of seeing a big picture of what God is doing in my church family, not just in individuals’ lives or individual ministries. I see God’s hand at work everywhere and even then, I see only a glimpse of the big picture that He sees. I’m thankful that it’s just a glimpse because if I saw the big picture of what God is doing and will do in the years to come, I would run and hide because it would overwhelm my very soul! Even though I say now what God does in His Church and His Kingdom does not depend at all on me, in the trenches, in the heat of the moment, I too often forget that truth and try to handle God’s work myself. Thankfully, He accomplishes His purposes in spite His servants, in spite of His disciples, in spite of His prophets, in spite of this pastor.
Rest assured though, I have no intention of just hanging out at Grace Life, taking in all that God is doing. On the contrary, He’s blessed me with the task of helping equip His Church to do the work of ministry. So, if you are part of my Grace Life family, what your pastors need more than anything is not just a pat on the back, although like you, we can always use encouragement. God has brought together a great team of men, my best friends, who compliment each other well (a.k.a., make different types of mistakes), so don’t grab your lanterns and torches just yet.
What we need most are your prayers. We need you to pray that we will be faithful and do worthy things for the Lord and for His people even when it’s difficult and unpopular. We need you to pray that His grace will be abundant in our lives and in our families’ lives, so that when we make mistakes, God’s work continues in spite of them. Most importantly, we need you to pray for His presence to be real in our lives, personally and professionally, in the office, in the sanctuary, in the classroom, and in our living rooms. I am blessed because I know that what we need, as your pastors, is already being sought on our behalves by our church family. I praise the Lord for this tremendous blessing in my life and will continue to ask, “Why me?”