(Written a week ago.)
As I have been reflecting on the most basic of Christian truths–the atonement, I have also been dealing with the most basic of heartaches of a pastor.
A number of years ago, I was asked, what the hardest part of being a pastor was. Having never contemplated that question before, I was surprised by my own answer. I said, “The most difficult part or most discouraging part of being a pastor is seeing people in the church for 10, 20, 30 or more years who still have the same character flaws they had when they first started attending.”
I have reflected on that answer a number of times. Not only in the context of church, but personally asking myself, “why do I struggle with the same things?” And in the past couple of years I have come to firmly believe the answer to my struggle is in my understand of God–His person, nature and character and His work through Christ. I need to know Him better, not just facts about him, but know Him. And as a teacher, I realize that I must point people to know God better.
But this week I have added to the answer, not only seeing a lack of change, but seeing an unexpected change in the wrong direction.
It seems that about ever two years since I have been in full-time ministries I have been confronted with a surprise.
And I pray that my heart will always be broken when I see or hear of a brother in sin. And I pray that I will always use the “opportunities” to examine my own heart, to see if I have become comfortable with my own failings, character flaws, proximity to sin or sin.
I pray that when I hear of a brother in sin, I will have the courage to pursue him, or as Paul says “knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.”
2 Corinthians 5:10-11 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. (ESV)