Confessions of a Pastor

Posted: March 24, 2010 in Lessons From Scripture
Tags: ,

Roughly three and a half years ago I vividly remember an extremely trying week.  The following is a brief narrative of that week and how God brought me through it.  

I’ll never forget that week.  I felt personally attacked as students within my youth ministry made terrible decisions, a fellow youth pastor fell into sexual temptation, I was told a man of God who I greatly respected had committed adultery, parents called me on the phone to complain about my style of ministering, and all the other details that only someone in full-time ministry can truly understand appeared to happen. It felt as though every day of the week was accompanied by another piece of bad information that I did not want to hear.

By the time Sunday came around, I did not want to be in church. My frustration had hit an all time high and I honestly felt as though I did not have anyone to talk to. Yes, I am married and have a great relationship with my wife, but I did not feel it would be fair to her to have to endure the issues of my soul wrenching week. After all, she was busy potting training our toddler and changing the diapers of our infant. In my mind, that was enough for anyone to deal with.

Well, Monday morning came and I once again went to my office and sat down in my chair in front of my desk. I picked up my Bible and for whatever reason I turned to the book of Galatians. When I started reading, I was only intending to read a couple chapters before I started on my weekly to do list. However, the next thing I knew, I had read the entire of Galatians and while I was contemplating about what I had just read, I had typed out six pages of observations on my computer.

I now know it was not mere chance that drew me to the book of Galatians. It was God. As I read the book, I closely evaluated every word that the apostle Paul so carefully wrote down for the Galatian believers. The thought then hit me like a ton of bricks: the Apostle Paul knew exactly what I was going through. I was not alone in my frustration of sinful decisions that believers seem to continually make.

The Apostle Paul had me right from the beginning as he made the statement that the letter he wrote was not just from himself but from “all the brethren who were with me” (Galatians 1.2). It appears as though the Apostle Paul in his frustration was spending time with other church leaders who all had reached the same conclusion: the church was in serious trouble. He and other leaders had worked so hard. They had given everything they had only to watch as those they so passionately and compassionately cared about “quickly desert” (Galatians 1.6) the Lord and Savior for something that was contrary to Scripture.

This church which was once persecuted for their faith (Galatians 3.4) was now subscribing to false doctrine. Paul and the other believers watched as the Galatian church went from being service oriented and compassionate (Galatians 4.14-20) into a state of self-centeredness and slavery. Paul spends most of the time in this book refuting false doctrine and voicing his frustration at the church and his disdain for the false teachers.

Paul reached a point where many of us in ministry often find ourselves. He says in chapter four verse eleven, “I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.” We pour our hearts and souls into lives just to watch them time and time again explode and implode from an apparent lack of understanding and caring of the principles of the Word of God. Far too many of us let this question of did I labor in vain, linger in our minds, especially Monday mornings after we have been eaten up during our weekends of ministry.

Fortunately, Paul did not end his letter questioning whether or not his time invested into the churches of Galatia was merely a waste of time or actually something that was beneficial. Rather in chapter six, we see that Paul makes a shift in his writing. He appears to pause in his writing and directs the letter at himself and the leaders that he represents rather than at the church members who had wounded him. He stops with the you statements and shifts to the we. He says this, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6.9,10).

This is when it hit me, “Jon stop focusing on Galatians 4.11 and start focusing on Galatians 6.9 and 10.” Questioning whether what I was doing was in vain should not have been an option for me. I know and many of my fellow Christian servants know, that what we are doing with our lives is the call of God. He called me to minister and pursuing God’s calling is never a waste of time.

Paul had an eternal focus in chapter six. It was almost as if he was saying, “I am going to keep fighting because I can’t wait to see what God will do.” At least this is what Paul said to me as I read Galatians six. This would also be my admonition to fellow Christian laborers who are questioning God’s call as to whether or not what they are doing is in vain. The answer is NO!!! Keep fighting, for in His time God will produce the fruit.

This week I am seeing the fruit. In fact I just received a phone call from one of my students who wishes to share with the rest of the youth group some of the principles that she has recently learned through her study of the Bible. Sure I can choose to be frustrated, but I am choosing to focus on how God is going to raise up a new generation of Christian leaders and I do not know about you, but I am excited because “in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (Galatians 6.9)

  1. Alicia Vanderwalker says:

    Jon, what a great narrative, and story. All too often people walk away from ministry because the can’t see God through the doom and gloom and don’t feel effective. I am so thankful that you are not one of those people! HBC is so blessed to have you as are all the kids at the HUB. God has great things in store for you and for our community!!!!


  2. Mike Wells says:

    Thanks for the encouragement today, Jon. I appreciate you! Keep serving HIM as He never stops Loving you! 😉


  3. Rob Karch says:

    Does this mean that you’ve been un-censored?


  4. Robin Morse says:

    Dear John,
    WOW! You have grown so much as a pastor! I love your sermons on your blog. I remember your first sermon at our church and I knew before you left that you were destined to do great things for God. You have grown even more since you left us.
    I pray you will be able to get your message on face book. you have my vote. There are many that need to read it and that you could reach. You have the ability to preach a deep and meaningful sermon in simple enough terms for anyone to understand.
    May God continue to use you for His glory!

    love in Christ, Robin


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