There it was. One of those posters. Some are funny. Some are clever. Others, beautiful. A few, thought-provoking. This one? Convicting.
It said something like this:
A prayer to be said when the world has gotten you down,
And you feel rotten,
And you’re too doggone tired,
And you’re in a big hurry,
And you’re mad at everybody . . .
I remember one week it seemed I saw the poster everywhere. God really wanted me to get the message. He nudged me when I first read it in a friend’s office. He slapped me hard in Newport Beach when I ran into it again. While moving faster than a speeding bullet in Portland, I came face-to-face with it again. It was silent as light but twice as bright . . . smashing me down and pinning me to the mat for the full count. How did I interpret God’s message through that poster?
“My son, slow down. Cool it. Admit your needs.”
Such good counsel. But tough to carry out. Why? Why in the world is it such a struggle for us pastors to cry out for assistance?
- In my entire life, I’ve never seen a football game played without substitutions.
- Even the finest surgeons receive help in delicate and extensive operations.
- Highway patrolmen travel in pairs.
- I was taught all the way through my days in the Marines to dig a hole before combat big enough for two people in battle . . . never for just one.
Asking for help is smart. It’s also the answer to fatigue . . . and the “I’m indispensable” image. You want to know what’s at the heart of much of our boundless ministerial drive? We can get pious and call it “passion.” But it’s something else.
Plain old, stubborn unwillingness to admit need. You see, the greatest battle in the pastorate today is not inefficiency; it’s super-efficiency . . . that is, it’s being too proud to ask for help.
The result? Painful though it is to describe, you know it’s true: impatience. We become easily irritated. Often angry. Longer hours. Less and less time off. Little laughter. No vacation. Zero time with family. Inflexibility. Longer and longer gaps between meaningful (personal) times in God’s Word. Precious few (if any) moments in personal prayer and prolonged meditation.
Say, my friend, it’s time to declare it. You are not the Messiah of the 21st-twenty-first century! No way can you keep going at this pace and stay effective year after year.
Analyze yourself any way you please, and you are H-U-M-A-N . . . nothing more.
So, slow down!
So, give yourself a break!
So, stop trying to cover all the bases!