Sometimes pastors can be prisoners. Are you a prisoner? To your own expectations?
To others’ impossible standards? To your church’s culturally imposed requirements?
To your denomination’s ministerial mold? To your board’s unintentionally hurtful demands?
Are you a prisoner to your sense of failure, lack of achievement, or low self-esteem? To your crazy, unworkable, marginless schedule? To your addiction to games, video, screens, substances, or other ministry-excluding practices?
Pastors can be prisoners. Especially when they do not have the freedom to be themselves.
Can you just be yourself? Or is being yourself somehow antithetical to what you, your church, or your denomination expects from a “good pastor”?
This week on the podcast, episode #87, we talk with our friend Erik Anderson. Erik got to the point in his life and ministry where both were unsustainable. He was a prisoner to how he was doing ministry.
He was a manic worker – even working in the middle of the night. He was driven, but by what? He was alienating himself from his wife. He was “doing ministry” in an untenable way. One day Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall. Erik tells his story, and we have the opportunity to perhaps find a piece of our story in his.
Years ago one pastor recounted how he had been so busy, busy, busy in ministry, that he finally got to the place where he had to admit to God, “Father, the way I am doing the work of God in the ministry, is destroying the work of God in my own heart.”
You might be on either end of the work continuum: you might be the workaholic, or you might be the lazy pastor. Both are unsustainable. Both will catch up with you.
Maybe you are right in the middle. Everything is just right. You’ve got all your ducks in a row. You’re very predictable, very scheduled, very organized. Your calendar is appropriate and your plans are set. Even the Holy Spirit can’t surprise you!
One thing is certain, if we are not working with Jesus in building his Kingdom, we are on our own. And if we are on our own, we are powerless. If we serve in ministry, practicing being aware of the presence of God, and walking in the Spirit, arm in arm and shoulder to shoulder with God – we can face anything that life or ministry can throw at us.
Jesus frees us. Without Jesus, we are prisoners. Prisoners to all of the above expectations and conditions we already outlined. Erik’s story on Wednesday’s podcast episode will encourage you. We are excited to share it with you. It’s our gift to you.
Because, sometimes, pastors can be prisoners.
If you enjoyed this post, you would enjoy Episode 44 - The Pastor's Self-Care.
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