A few weeks ago, I began this blog while sitting on a plane trying to make sense of something burning upon my heart. This blog is that attempt to explain a burden that I cannot let go of. After the 18 years of pastoral ministry, one thought continues to repeating come to my mind: This isn’t about me.
It’s the constant reminder to me as Sunday morning’s message develops and blossoms. It’s there as I sit and look over my message calendar to plan out future series…
This isn’t about me.
The reminder is there through every meeting. I think of it when I write down every dream. When strategies are planned; when plans are implemented…
This isn’t about me.
When I sit with a couple of drowning in hopelessness, while I hold the hand of someone in the ICU, when I read a note written in absolute anger and frustration…
This isn’t about me.
It is these four words that sedate the “diva” inside all of us. It’s the flesh part of me that wants to make whatever I’ve become or whatever I’m doing and let it point back to me. It’s that part of my pride that craves a spotlight and leave my mark.
It’s not that I don’t want to be affective…
It’s not that I don’t want to succeed at being the best steward of the opportunities God gives me…
It’s not that don’t want to transform the world around me…
…but I want my heart to stay in one place. And that place is this: This isn’t about me.
This place to live in, as a pastor, doesn’t stop me in endeavoring to build a church, ministry, or life. It doesn’t stop me from desiring more for me, my family, and the congregation I serve. But it keeps my heart in check and makes sure my attitude stays in a place of humility. It brings passion to my life to do everything with excellence because what I do will reflect Jesus. And what I do, I want to make sure it honors him.
I just wanted to share with you 6 thoughts to keep in mind to make sure ministry stays all about Jesus.
1 – The church isn’t here to build your brand. My mind goes to a quote from the movie Miracle. Herb Brookes, looks at the 1980 Team USA Hockey Team and says to the, “The name on the front of the jersey is a whole lot more important that the name on the back of the jersey.” The church is the Bride of Christ and Jesus is the head. You are not. The church isn’t here to make you famous. We are here to make Jesus famous. Our brand is the Kingdom and we must be about Kingdom business.
2 – Value history but build for the future. Tradition is meant to be a baton and not an anchor. But appreciate what’s been handed to you. But note: Appreciation is a subjective thing. There’ll be people who will mistaken your intentions for lacking honor because it’s not in the form/fashion they desire. That’s okay. We make judgment calls on whether or not we feel someone or something is appreciated based upon our interpretation. Value the pastors you have followed. Honor those who have served and volunteered through blood, sweat, and tears to build the ministry you now are a part of. BUT…valuing and honoring doesn’t mean you stay there. You must move forward. It’s the only way to honor Christ above humanity.
3 – Offense cannot be outsourced. You will never make everyone happy. You cannot make every happy. But dealing with people issues must be done biblically and not through some other unhealthy means. Sometimes that means dealing with people in a manner that doesn’t feel good but is the right way to deal with them. If there are issues with you, then you need to deal with them. In the same light, if people have issues with others, help them to facilitate healthy conflict resolution instead of solving it on your own.
4 – I must build beyond me. I must leave the church healthier than when I found it. Sometimes that means confronting and dealing with unhealthy mindsets (which can lose you people). Other times it’s laying down superfluous activities that develop zero fruit (again…can lose you people). Healthy churches have a Christ-centered focus to build His Kingdom. I understand that, around year 7, the congregation can resemble the personality of the pastor, but that personality should point toward a passionate life of serving Jesus.
5 – I cannot live off people’s complements or I will die by their criticisms. Like any pastor (or human for that matter), I need encouragement. But there is a human tendency is to feed off of the feelings of complements so much that we look to them solely for sustenance. We begin to live off of “likes” and “retweets.” We thrive off of notes and cards. And when they don’t arrive at the rate we want (or at all), then we question our calling, effectiveness, or timing of our tenure. Anything outside of Jesus as the center of our lives is idolatry. I wonder if we (pastors) have learned to serve the praise of people rather than the Jesus we should be praising.
6 – Bless people when they leave. My mentor helped me understand that people leaving can be a good thing for you AND them. You may not be a fit for people as a pastor (and vise versa). That’s okay. Speak grace over them. Encourage them. Help them find a new church. Remember: We are building His Kingdom and not our empire. Bless people who are leaving your congregation and shut your mouth about them. Don’t complain about gossip in the church if that’s what you are doing too.
In all reality, I will make mistakes in my methods. I’ll fail at communicating properly what is burning inside of me.
But one thing you will not mistake: My heart.
I want to build something that will outlast me. I want to build something that will resemble Jesus. I want patterns and traditions that will propel the church forward into a passionate pursuit of Christ in the mission of making disciples of all nations.
And it’s this mindset that fights off the “Diva Pastor” in all of us that is all too consumed in self promotion and gratification. The “Diva” begins and ends with self. That’s why we pastors, cannot go there.
Lord, help us to stay humble and true to you. Help us to see ourselves as servants to you and co-laborers with other pastors (inside and outside our denomination). Let everything we say and do, point people to Jesus. When we are wrong, help us to walk with contrite spirits. When we are successful, help us to keep the crowns at your feet. Give us wisdom to guide. Give us the resolve to lead our church communities according to where your Spirit leads and not about what people prefer. Let us see traditions as batons and not anchors. Let culture be a language we use to convey Jesus and not an excuse to ignore your commands. Refresh us. Baptize us in your glory. We need you…every hour we need you.
You’re Kingdom come; your will be done. Amen
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. James 4:10
Thanks for letting me ramble…