“I wish you would have called me 6 months ago…”
That was the response that I got from a FORMER pastor, who was incorrectly still on a list of pastors currently pastoring in our area. If I remember correctly, I had just told him about what we do in Grats Transformational Ministry Coaching and he had just finished telling me about how difficult of a time he had had in ministry; and that he and his family had finally just had enough. They stepped out of ministry and he wasn’t going back. The toughest part of that quotation above was actually the second part of it:
“I wish you would have called me 6 months ago… maybe I would still be in ministry.”
I got off of the phone in shock. Our coaching ministry had only been around for 2 or 3 months at that point, but I still couldn’t help feeling for a few moments like I had failed him somehow. I am writing this blog in hopes of making it to you “in time”.
What popped into your mind when you read “how difficult of a time he had in ministry”?
Lay leaders who openly challenge almost your every move?
Staff members who undercut you regularly?
I have helped pastors and churches through all of these. But none of those are the most prolific culprit. Ok, so what is?
In my experience, this lie is: Busy = valuable.
(For those of you who are reading this and are not pastors, I see this lie permeating people in the business world as well; and it often has similar consequences.)
Busy DOES NOT equal value, nor valuable. And yet, I constantly hear pastors talk about how they equate busyness to perceived value. (And again, I constantly see this in the business world as well.)
Value is determined by the price that someone is willing to pay for something. It really has nothing to do with being busy.
Jesus paid for us with His life. Therefore, we are very valuable.
We aren’t valuable because He spent His 20’s working in the trades and building things before starting his public ministry at age 30. Have you ever preached about the power of Jesus’ 20’s?
“Yes, Jesus was most likely a tradesman such as a stone worker or carpenter in his 20’s before he started his public ministry at age 30. Oh, what a price he paid for us by steadily, and even busily, working with his hands. You can come to Him with your life and experience His salvation because of what he built with his hands while on earth. Let’s worship Him now for his building ministry.”
I have NEVER heard this sermon, and probably never will. In fact, we don’t ACTUALLY know what happened during those “silent” years of Jesus’ life. Did his brothers (who ended up as members and leaders in the early church) not know what he did before starting His public ministry? Of course they did. Then why don’t we have written volume after written volume of His every movement prior to His public ministry? Because, compared to His 3 years of ministry and especially how he ended his 3 years of earthly ministry, the other stuff doesn’t really matter. It is of no value to the true salvation story. This is Jesus that I am talking about here, and the perceived busyness of his 20’s wasn’t of enough value to even get one sentence in the New Testament… even though it would have all been about Jesus!
Because busyness DOES NOT equal value.
Pastor, the only person in your church who truly believes that busy is equivalent to value, is probably you. And, watching it usually isn’t a pretty thing. Imagine the Wizard of OZ pretending day in and day out that his farce of being powerful and mighty is still fully intact, all the while the entire rest of the crowd is standing there behind him snickering because the curtain that had previously hidden him had been gone for years... but he just won’t admit that small truth to himself.
Is this really that big of a deal?
This is the lie that allows pastors to justify consistently shafting their families for the “work of the ministry”. This is the lie that can cause a pastor’s family to hate ministry, and even walk away from following Jesus. This is the lie that drives burn out among the pastoral ranks. This is the lie that actually reduces a pastor’s productivity. Yep, one of the consequences of this lie is actually becoming LESS valuable. And this is the lie that can cause a pastor to say, “I wish you would have called me 6 months ago - maybe we would still be in ministry” – because they are now a former pastor.
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