I was simply striving to live for God as a husband and a Dad; not bothering anyone; working in the construction field and being the best church member that I knew to be. That was 1993; I was 29 years old. God changed all that when He called me to preach. I then began the great adventure that many call “The Ministry.” Upon surrendering to God’s call I diligently observed my pastor, Ron Bryan as he faithfully shepherded the flock that God had assigned him to steward. I watched as he tirelessly poured his life into them by consistently unfolding the Word of God and unpretentiously loving them. I saw God do some things that only God could do at that church, but there seemed to be an incessant antagonist mindset from many toward their shepherd. My analysis wasn’t merely from an “outside looking in” perspective but from the inside, due to Pastor Ron mentoring me and allowing me to see things from his point of view. I lost count of the malicious attacks he endured. It amazed me that he never lost his cool or actually retaliated; he simply continued to love the people for the duration of his tenure there. My obvious question was “why?!” Why would anyone who claims to love God attack the man of God? What would motivate them to do such a thing, etc., etc… That’s not to mention the sheer lack of respect, response, and concern for the man who was leading them in and into the things of God. Don’t get me wrong, the majority followed, respected, and loved him, but a needless number made much of his life a constant battle with the “enemy from within.”
Fast forward to September 22, 2009; I’ve been an associate or senior pastor for nearly 15 years. While the joys of shepherding are more than I can count or deserve, the difficulties are as real and as numerous as what my pastor faced. Am I surprised? No; for several reasons: 1) Pastor Ron, as well as others worked hard to prepare me for such. 2) I believe in the doctrine of Total Depravity, and 3) I believe there’s been an epidemic of “easy believism” in our churches that has lead to unregenerate church members. So, I’m not as much surprised as saddened; saddened when someone you’ve been praying for, ministering to and pouring your life into suddenly leaves the church high and dry and begins an attempt to methodically tear down the very church and leaders that unconditionally loved them and shared the Word of God with them. From an absolute human perspective this type of action would be devastating; only through the biblical understanding of joy in and through suffering for the glory of God and our satisfaction can one endure such antics. Otherwise the hurt that stems from such depraved actions would destroy any pastor.
So, although I am still relatively young in the ministry, I’ve surely learned this; there is a cost to following Christ. If you are convinced that God has called you into pastoral ministry, and you intend to be obedient to Him in the command to “Preach the Word in season and out…” you must know that you will be used, abused, battered, and bruised by people, its part of the package. There will probably be times when you will want to throw your hands up and say something like, “I’ll just get a regular job, let someone else do this, join a church somewhere and be the best member I can be!” Of course if you do that you will miss the joy of obedience to Christ and wonderful opportunities to glorify God by being satisfied in Him through suffering. My point is not to scare someone away from the truly awesome privilege of pastoral ministry, but to make you more fully aware of the difficulties so that you will be more prepared!
May God’s grace be very present to those who faithfully proclaim His Word; may they persevere for the glory of God; may they suffer well with a joy that passes all understanding; may they focus on God’s grace laced sheep that remain obedient through thick and thin instead of those who aren’t.