Thursday, November 14, 2013

Have You Prayed for Your Youth Pastor Today?

Okay, before anyone gets snarky about the title, this is not a plea for attention.  It is an honest question.  Have you prayed for your (or the person serving at your church) Youth Pastor today?  Let me explain why I am asking...

Today, I had lunch with a group of youth pastors.  Now, this does not happen very often, but it is usually pretty great to get together with other ministers.  These are guys who truly understand what you do, and all that comes along with doing this type of ministry.  Brothers-in-arms to use a different analogy.  We met at a sub shop, and swapped ideas, talked about our families, and about ministry here in our city.  We truly had a good time together.

However, I could see pain the eyes of a few of the guys.  Pain that I understand.  As I have explained before, many of us pastors have been deceived into believing that we are supposed to have it all together.  We are not supposed to get down, we are not supposed to fail, we are not supposed to show weakness...  after all, people are LOOKING to US for leadership.  So, we bottle our own emotions, and ignore our own problems...that is until our own problems become so great that they can no longer be hidden.  When the elephant (your problems) that you think you have kept hidden in the room, finally falls out from behind the lamp post (ridiculous, as it was obvious to everyone else) is often a fall of epic proportions.

One of the few places that pastors (and yes, I classify youth pastors as pastors) can sometimes share their issues is with...other pastors.  Today, a couple of us had the opportunity to listen to a brother pour out his heart, and pray with him.  He is hurting, worn, and exhausted.  Years of serving the church can do that to you.  It's not that you do not love what you do, or that you do not love the Lord.  The truth is that it is a job that you never really get to "leave" at work.  The emotions and effects of our ministry are on our minds all the time.  We get phone calls at all hours asking for prayer, to meet someone at the hospital, texts for prayer, for a ride, etc.  Don't get me wrong...this is what we do...what we signed up for, and truthfully...we love it.  I am just trying to illustrate the mental/spiritual side of what we do.

I talk to youth pastors from all over, and the story is the same.  The devil seems to be on the offensive  right now.  I would be wrong to tell you that this is only affecting youth pastors.  All ministers are vulnerable.  However, the youth pastors in churches can be easy to miss.  They are not often front and center, and spend a lot of time with teenagers...a place where many adults fear to tread...:)  My request of you is pretty simple.  This weekend, take a bit to offer up some prayer for your church staff, but please make it a point for the next week to specifically pray for your youth pastor.  Pray for his spiritual strength, his walk with the Lord, his marriage, his vision for ministry, his relationships with other ministry staff members, and pray for physical health and strength.  Take the time to thank him for the work that he does with the church.  You have no idea just how much a kind word or a thank you can change things for the better.  Thank you for taking the time to read this!

Lastly, once again...some may think of a blog article like this as rather self-serving.  Please be assured that this is not my intent at all.  Just wrote this out of concern for my brothers in ministry!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Would Jesus Say This To You?

I read a passage in Matthew this morning.  Every now and then, God uses a passage that I have read many times to speak wisdom into my life today.   Here are the verses:

 “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad.  You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.   A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.  And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.  The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” Matt. 12:33-37 (NLV)
Jesus was speaking to some religious leaders of the day, called Pharisees.  They did not like Jesus, and used any opportunity they could to try and discredit the ministry of Jesus.  In this case, they had even accused Jesus of getting his power from the Devil. 
These were men that were looked up to in the community, and were leaders in the Jewish church, not just average citizens.  Jesus looks right past their “standing” in society, and their pious attitudes.  He goes right to the center of the problem…the condition of their hearts.
Does this hit you the way it hit me?  How often do I rely on my own thoughts, traditions, and perspective in the way I follow Jesus?  Do I allow my heart to become calloused and cold, resulting in speech that demoralizes, or criticizes others?  I have to admit that I find myself fighting the urge to be snarky, cold, and critical of others.  It is particularly bad when I am tired, or when things have not gone my way.  I hate to admit that, but it's true...
Truthfully, we are no different than the Pharisees in this story, if left to our own devices.  Jesus IS in fact saying this to us, as well.  Check your heart...make sure it's tuned into God, and not yourself!  I pray that God uses you in mighty ways this week!