(When I was a kid, I attended a very small church. We met in a living room, a mobile home, and then a ranch style building. Today there is a larger church building on a hill at the edge of town – with oh, about 200 people attending. Imagine that.)
When I was about ten years old, the church had an outing to a small amusement park in our area. I was very excited to go on the biggest ride in the park – the roller coaster. Excited that is, until I got on it and it crested the first hill! I screamed like a girl until my breath could scream no more.
The entire ride found me clutching the youth leader who was next to me, screaming for him to make it stop. Big man I was. To this day I don’t like heights, and I would never go on a roller coaster. As a teenager, to impress my girlfriend, I got on one with her. I closed my eyes and screamed loudly on the inside during the ride. She never knew. I never again went on one… to this day.
Ups and downs, ups and downs. Let’s see now… hmmmm, what is like a roller coaster, with all of its ups and downs??
Hey! Pick me, pick me! I know, I know!
Yes, Jeffrey? Do you know?
I know… “Ministry!”
Very good Jeffrey! You get the gold star for knowing the right answer!
Just so you know you’re not crazy, Pastor, yes, ministry is full of ups and downs! If you’ve experienced that, don’t worry, you’re normal.
Just today I received both compliments and denigration, praise and criticism. Today I was both appreciated and taken advantage of. Today I was both cared for and ignored, understood and misunderstood. Today I was riding high on good things, and then hanging low in the depths of despair.
Now, to be fair, today was a little extreme, but it was still just another Sunday, nothing out of the ordinary. As a pastor, you just never know. You’re ready for anything, unless you’re not! Then you get blindsided. I got blindsided today.
I said I wouldn’t get blindsided anymore, but I did. I always expect the best, and many times receive the best, but people act like I act sometimes, like a person, a fallen person. I’m just like everyone else, I struggle to encourage others even as I want to be encouraged. But we keep trying, right?
So, Pastor, did you ride a little bit of a roller coaster this weekend? You did? Okay, fine then, you’re normal. Tell God about it, let him love you. Tell your husband or wife and perhaps a trusted advisor or friend, and then trust God with both the good and the bad.
We’re not like regular people, we’re pastors. We ride the roller coaster, and sometimes we close our eyes and scream inside, but we try not to let anyone know. Sometimes that’s good. We’re pastors, and we’ve committed our lives to making it all about others, not us. There’s good to that. Of course, stay healthy, don’t ignore your needs or your health, but it’s OK to make it about others, and just scream on the inside. J
So this seems like a strange post to me, but I somehow feel like all of you pastor friends will understand.
The one difference between the roller coasters I don’t ride anymore and the roller coaster that is ministry sometimes is this: I never get off the ministry roller coaster – it is my life calling. I love it. Yeah, so what, sometimes I scream. But I still love it. Wouldn’t want to do anything else.
God, help us to LOVE your sheep, just like you LOVE us pastors. They are beautiful and precious to you – and we get to love them, care for them, and feed them. Thank you God.
We have a fantastic podcast episode for you this Wednesday with Doug Grogan, the District Superintendent in charge of me and Jonny. Poor man. But he is a man of wisdom, humor, and grace – and has some awesomely wonderful words to share with all of us 200church pastors – this week on episode #79 of the 200churches Podcast!
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