May 21, 2011

Challenging Words for a Pastor

I am in the middle of receiving a triple (or potentially quadruple) punch combination from some of the books that I have been reading lately. I am being hit with various forms of the question, "What are you doing with your time?"

The first punch came from the book Worldliness by CJ Mahaney and friends. It may have been several small punches combined, but I definitely received a wallop from this book. Especially the chapters dealing with various forms of media consumption. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it ... if you want to get smacked in the face with some serious truth and relevant questions.

The second punch is coming from my current Christian Audio book titled, The Next Story by Tim Challies. This book is dealing with the advances of media and technology and what affects it is having and could potentially have. It is a challenging book, and as he moves past the interesting, intellectual and instructional portions of the book, he brings it home with some penetrating questions that you can tell come from a heart that is also dealing with these same questions.

To let you know a little better how the Lord is working on me, allow me to share a couple of quotes that might put it into perspective. The first quote is one that really reveals my heart's condition as it has been for quite a while. It confronts laziness, which I have confronted within myself many times over. I currently feel like I am winning the battle against laziness (maybe), but this quote puts to words my own thoughts better than I could voice them.
Some pastors and preachers are lazy and no good. They do not pray; they do not read; they do not search the Scripture…The call is: watch, study, attend to reading. In truth you cannot read too much in Scriptures; and what you read you cannot read too carefully, and what you read carefully you cannot understand too well, and what you understand well you cannot teach too well, and what you teach well you cannot live too well…the devil…the world…and our flesh are raging and raving against us. Therefore, dear sirs and brothers, pastors and preachers, pray, read, study, be diligent…This evil, shameful time is not the season for being lazy, for sleeping and snoring.
In this quote, in the battle against laziness, I am also challenged to consider how I am battling that laziness. Is it right to simply fill that time with activity, even good activities? What should I devote myself to as a Pastor? If I find that I am not lazy, but instead busy, is that actually a good thing? Consider this next quote, by Eugene Peterson, and you will understand where I am at in this internal inquisition.
The adjective busy set as a modifier to pastor should sound to our ears like adulterous to characterize a wife or embezzling to describe a banker. It is an outrageous scandal, a blasphemous affront…. [It is] a blasphemous anxiety to do God’s work for him.

I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself — and to all who will notice — that I am important.

How can I lead people into the quiet place beside the still waters if I am in perpetual motion? How can I persuade a person to live by faith and not by works if I have to juggle my schedule constantly to make everything fit into place? (The Contemplative Pastor)
Both of these quotes came from a blog titled Dash House. His whole blog post is worth the read and a bit better put-together than mine. The post is titled, The Pastor who jogged while mowing his lawn, and you can click here to read the whole thing.

If you made it through this entire post, then I will ask you a couple of questions.  The first question is, "Are you struggling with laziness?"  The second question, the potentially more challenging question, is, "Are you struggling with that other form of laziness called busyness?"

[HT: Tim Challies]