Our world and nation have been on a roller coaster ride the past few weeks. The future seems so uncertain and many of us have a wide range of emotions and thoughts. This pandemic has affected people differently: job losses, health scares, loss of a loved one or acquaintance, or simply the fear of the unknown. As a pastor, this pandemic has reminded me that we are merely humans. We have our gifts and our flaws, but none of us are exempt from feeling a wide range of emotions. With that, I want to think about 10 Things Pastors Feel:
1. We feel loved.
Neither I nor our pastoral staff can speak for every church, but our church at Mount Pleasant has loved us and loved us well. When Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 13:8 that “Love never ends,” he is describing the type of love that Jesus has for His church. Our church family has displayed that same type of love toward our pastoral staff, and we feel it. From food being dropped off to encouraging notes, nothing surpasses the prayer that has been felt during this time. Thank you for loving us in such a special way.
2. We feel pressure
There’s no doubt that we feel pressure on every decision that is made right now. That pressure comes with the office of overseer/elder/pastor that is described in 1 Timothy 3. Part of the qualification described is to desire a noble task (1 Tim 3:1). The noble task during this time is to lead faithfully despite the pressure we may feel from multiple angles. Never in Scripture were we guaranteed to lead easy tasks without any pressure. Actually, when you look at the gospel and our mission, we should consistently feel pressure as we faithfully live out the gospel.
3. We feel empowered Before Jesus’ ascension He said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit walks through everything with us, but there are certain times we feel His presence stronger. There is no doubt we have felt the Holy Spirit walking with us and empowering us to continue to follow after the Lord.
4.We feel vulnerable In the midst of proclaiming the gospel, the Apostle Paul tells the church of Corinth, “I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” (1 Cor 2:3-5). If we’re honest, most of us during this time have felt vulnerable or weak. That says nothing about our faith and it’s okay to feel this way. Feeling vulnerable helps us to be reminded of our need for the Lord daily.
5.We feel innovative During this time, pastors have had to learn to be innovative with how ministry is done. Pastors have said, “Although ministry looks different, it continues.” That is true, it has and will continue. Bible studies through video conferencing, singing at nursing homes from the parking lot, and being more up-to-date on technology are just a few ways we’re moving forward. We may not innovative, but we sure feel more innovative than ever before.
6.We feel unknowing. We truly do not know enough about this virus. Our opinions and thoughts change drastically about the virus as we hear from medical professionals. Our lack of knowledge about this wicked virus sometimes feels like we are uncertain of the future, but there are things we do know. We know that this virus is a direct result of what took place in Genesis 3. The fall of man led to sickness and death, so although we feel unknowing about certain things, we must find our hope in the things we do know.
7. We feel hope Our hope must not be in fragile things of this world, but in the One who was raised from the dead. We feel hope because the Lord can use these times to draw people closer to Him. We feel hope because we know the Lord is not done yet and can use even the darkest of times to bring glory to His name. Looking at the life of Job, we can recognize that in the midst of his agony, he had a sense of hope. Our prayer is that of Paul’s, “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,” (2 Thess 2:16). May His love give all of us the hope we need during these difficult days.
8. We feel weight There will always be weight when you’re a shepherd. The weight now is the desire to be with the sheep, wanting to be sure the sheep are protected and ensuring the sheep are being fed. The reason we as shepherds feel a weight has not changed, but the heaviness of the weight has changed due to these unforeseen circumstances. Although we feel the weight, our hope of coming back together is so much stronger. This is only a temporary weight that, with the Lord’s help, we will get through.
9. We feel shepherded Just as we strive to shepherd, we ourselves feel shepherded. When the author of Hebrews is encouraging us to keep our hope in the Lord he quotes Jesus saying, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb 13:5). Jesus hasn’t, nor will He, forget about us. Jesus is the ultimate Shepherd who continues to lead, guide and protect us because He laid His life down for us (John 10). As we shepherd during these difficult days, the Lord continues to shepherd us. We are forever grateful that Jesus has given us a perfect example of what a Shepherd does.
10. We feel emotional. Seeing empty pews, canceling activities and mission trips, and simply not seeing faces has made us emotional. As with some of you, tears continue to flow as we miss our people and fellowship. Our congregation has continued to be on our minds, and it’s brought a different type of emotion to us as pastors. With that said, we long for the type of emotion it will bring the day we’re able to get back together. We long for those tears on that day. We long for those emotions and eagerly await the time we’re back together.
Although we feel a wide range of emotions, may we continue to be reminded that this is not about us, you, or any particular person. This is about, during a time of crisis, turning and fixing our eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:2). It’s about proclaiming the goodness of Jesus in the midst of chaos. It’s about speaking to others about the reality of hell and eternity. May all the emotions and feelings any of us are going through strengthen our hearts in lives in line with the mission God has called us to.
Pastor Joe Mayes
Administrative & Missions Pastor