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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Is Your Pastor Distracted?

I drove 532 miles one-way to attend a funeral this week. It gave me a lot of time to think. It also made me aware of what people do when they are bored while driving. Cell phones were the least of my worries. People were eating, reading and playing with their radios or iPods.  Most of the people kept their cars in their lanes as they did other things. A few didn't.

Of course, it doesn't take gadgets to get us distracted. We admire a rainbow or look at the mist coming over the mountains. The beauty causes us to gaze a little to long. Its easy to slip out of your lane, hit the warning bumps and refocus your attention.

We aren't only distracted while driving. We can be distracted while doing anything which is important in life. In fact, we can forget what we are supposed to be doing. The urgent demands crying for out attention can keep us from every doing what we should be doing.

I arrived at the funeral of the first pastor I served under after seminary graduation. I heard three of his children, two of his former staff members and someone who sat under his preaching and advice give testimonies about him. Each one told about how he loved God's word and how much time he spent preparing to preach it.

He had moved his study to his home just before I was on his staff. He got a great deal of criticism for this while I was there. People felt that he wasn't really working if he wasn't at the church. I now believe they were saying that he was not really available at a moment's notice if he was studying at home. I think they thought he should be like a retail salesman who waits for the customers to arrive so he can meet their needs.

But this man did not give into criticism. He had a room set aside in which he studied his Bible and prepared his sermons. He prepared three different sermons each week. I know this is not what the typical preacher does today. He felt that it was that important to preach the word. Thus, the church had three true worship services each week. The Sunday morning, evening or Wednesday night services  were not much different from each other. He preached to a fairly full sanctuary at each of these services.

Maybe that is why I heard so many people tell his widow stories of what he meant to them as I stood in line to tell my story. People came from states all around to tell their stories of the time when they were members of the church. Each one told of his sermons and how at that particular time in their lives they needed to hear what he had to say.

I thought to myself, "Why am I taking every call that comes when I should be preparing to preach the word? What difference will it make if I don't get involved in the landscaping, air conditioner maintenance or church insurance? What happens if I don't get involved in the upgrade to the computers?" Very little I am sure.

But what happens if I give a half-baked sermon? What happens if I fail to present God's word accurately and with some depth? Am I not producing half-baked shallow Christians? I can't help but say that I am.

It is so easy to get distracted. It only takes a phone call or someone who comes in with what they perceive to be a crisis. I drop the word of God and give grease to the squeaky wheel. Then, I give the congregation the left overs.

I also criticized the pastor for moving his study home. I now understand. He just didn't want to be distracted.

2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV)
2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. 


Anonymous said...

Well it is indeed very important to preach the Word properly, it is also imperative that the under shepherd (senior pastor) cares for the flock in ways more than just preaching the Word.

As the Senior Pastor or Head Pastor of a church, it is either you devote some time for that caring apart from preaching, or you have to have in place, others from the church leadership or staff, to care as required.  Even when it is the latter, the Head cannot be aloft or appear to be not caring. We cannot be meeting every requests, but we must be of clear conscience as to the meeting of the character expectation of a leadership role.

Jesus did note for us, in Scripture, that He had to preach the Word, yet it was not a case of He not stopping to minister, other than preaching; He stopped to care, like praying for the sick, and visiting, and generally engaging with people. And we can note that Jesus also had His disciples undertook of the tasks.

The same can be said of the Disciple-Apostles of Jesus; they too cared, including through formation of support team, like the team of 7 (deacons), so that they could devote more time to the preaching of the Word.


Anonymous said...

Cont. from above

We are to imitate Jesus, and there is nothing wrong with that.  We should not be mistaken that, that was to mean that we are to copy all the acts of Jesus; it is not precisely that, for we do not imitate actions, we imitate so-and-so. That means more precisely that we are to be like Jesus as in the character of Jesus. Settings are different, for we are not in Jesus' time. The more pertinent question would be, when we have embraced the imitation of Jesus, "What would Jesus do in this scenario that we are presently facing?" In other words, to imitate Jesus does not mean we are to take up some dirt from the ground, spit on it, and apply it on the eyes of the one coming to us for prayer for healing of his or her eyes. To imitate, is not about an act; we don't say we imitate another person's laugh, for example; imitate is more than just an action itself.

I believe Ps Prentis is being modest; he loves and he cares; and he walks his talk. Jesus Himself demonstrated the same. Simply, one just cannot say he is only required to love, by preaching the Word, and not have to practically love God or love his neighbor.  In the Good Samaritan Story, there was the Levites, and there was the priest, both did not love practically, even though they might know the requirements of God, and could even teach others of the love of God; they failed to love.

There is always the dual aspects of our Christian life. While there is the corporate, that we function as a member of a group, and in group dynamics, it is right to have some people doing some tasks and some others of the group doing something else; and so, we could have a ministry team of church to do such things as visiting and praying for the sick or care for the elderly, but it does not mean we ignore the other aspect, of God viewing us personally.  In other words, it cannot be that you have a ministry team who cares, but you do not need to care, but only wanting solely to preach.


Anonymous said...

Cont. From above

As a leader-example, we cannot expect to have people looking to us as good example, if we only tell members to care and love, but we do not!

It is never easy to be a leader, and truly we can be misunderstood; and often times we do not have the time or opportunities or able to explain the many factors and issues confronting us or requiring our attentions; we need to juggle with clear conscience; must rest on 'God knows'.  Yet we have to be, of purity of heart and are sincere.

Ps Prentis, because I have been following your entries here, I know you do aim to be excellent for the Lord; in all various things you are called into.  May God continue to guide you, grant you the wisdom, and give you the peace and rest, you (and all of us, too) need, to run for the Lord in the long-haul.

I emphasize again, preaching the Word properly and correctly is paramount; yet preaching is not all, and distraction is better looked at, in terms of we mistakenly concentrating on matters other than what the Lord would like us to concentrate on, for the season or time, which can be a thing other than preaching; even though it is not wrong to say, for the Senior Pastor or Head Pastor, preaching is always in his calling.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions