Too often, we pastors tend to wear our smiles upside-down. The burdens of ministry—especially during the busy holidays—often cause our joy to droop into deep-wrinkled frowns.
(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)
The remedy? We need to reflect on God’s good gifts to us. And often!
In case you need a little help with this assignment, read through this psalm . . .
I remember it well. It was Christmas of 1958, and Bob Hope and his troupe included Okinawa along with other Asian ports in their goodwill tour. I was among thousands of others that evening—homesick for the good ol’ USA, missing my wife and counting the days. When the veteran entertainer sang his closing song, “Thanks for the Memories,” all of us sang along with him as we found ourselves flooded with memories.
(Photo: By Petr Kratochvil. GFDL, http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
I recall how grateful I was for that tour of duty: the lessons I had learned, the disciplines I had begun to employ (thanks to the Navigators), the books I had read, the missionaries I had met, the places I had visited, the journals I had kept, the letters I had written, the verses I had memorized, even the things I had witnessed inside a Marine Corps barracks (what goes on there, stays there!).
And, most importantly, the call I had received from God to enter ministry.
Pastoring has to be the highest of all callings. In this position, we have the privilege of touching life at its most tender points . . . of walking with pain through its darkest valleys . . . of proclaiming truth in its purest form . . . of confronting sin in its ugliest scenes . . . of modeling integrity through its hardest extremes—while everyone is watching as well as when no one is looking.
It is no wonder to me why it requires a God-given calling before one enters it or why such a struggle accompanies resignation from it.
As we review the memories of this year, let’s remind ourselves of a few essentials that are easy to forget. I’ll list them so that each one might stick in our minds throughout the Yuletide season. Three specifics come to mind.