My calling is as a pastor to the church of Jesus Christ. It is the most terrible-wonderful thing in the world. Terrible in the fact that it is like death and resurrection in hyper-speed. Challenges to the flesh occur in rapid fashion and constantly assail me. You see, I’m not just facing challenges myself, in my own life, but I face them as I walk along side others who are in trouble. It mulitplies the opportunities to die to my flesh. It’s like being in a cocoon of intense inspection by the Spirit. My trips to the cross have mulitplied since I answered this calling! If that were not enough, leading the body of Christ can sometimes be like herding cats. I don’t know if you’re a “cat herder” or not but it is an interesting challenge. Cats are not like cattle who seem to follow one another when protecting themselves. Cats are independent and go whatever direction they feel is best for THEM when they feel pressure. To heck with everyone else, I’m saving myself!!!
If our flesh were not enough of a challenge to our working together toward Christ’s calling, the American mentality of democratic government makes herding cats even harder. Although there is accountability in the church, God doesn’t run His church as a democracy. He picks some broken, no talent, leader and gives Him the responsibility to speak His Word to the group and entrusts Him with the responsibility of leading His body. Then, he tells the others to follow this leader with faith in God as the real head of the church! Wow, are we having fun yet?!?
But, there is another side to it all.
I love Jesus with all my heart. I am humbled to the nth degree that He would even look my way in deciding who will stand in front of the most awesome group of people in the universe: His Church. In the midst of the pain of pastoring brought on by the constant trips to the cross-always keeping your heart right, responding right, speaking blessing when others do not- I find resurrection life! Facing that which brings death to me and pain along with it, takes me to a place in which I’m at the end of myself and there is nothing left but Jesus.
The peeling away of my flesh is the only way to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit. It hurts like you wouldn’t believe but even as I feel as if I am evaporating and being dispersed in a hundred different directions like smoke in the breeze-I find another presence there in which all the parts that have evaporated and dispersed are not necessary to make me whole!
So, you’re left with nothing but Jesus. I told you it was wonderful! The trip to that place is the most terrifying of all, but once there, you discover what the entire world is shooting, snorting, sexing, stealing, and spending to find. No, I’m not advocating you enter the ministry; not unless you’re called. You will need something more then desire to make it in the ministry-you’ll need a word from God to hang on to when the entire ship sinks and your desire to minister is replaced by repulsion for people and the ministry.
Jesus, we would see Jesus! That’s what it is all about. If my death hastens His appearing in the church, Lord, lead me to the cross.