For my friends in ministry, are you ready to resign? (Of course you are! It’s Monday.)
Here’s some hope and humor from my friend, Chris Maxwell. He uses the writings of Frederick Buechner, Oswald Chambers, Annie Dillard, Richard Foster, C. S. Lewis, Brennan Manning, Calvin Miller, Henri Nouwen, Eugene Peterson and more to encourage those serving others. I’m part of the “more” in his book, Pause for Pastors: Finding Still Waters in the Storm of Ministry.
So here’s my excerpt to provide some hope and humor for those “in the storm of ministry” . . .
The Book of Joe
There was a pastor whose name was Joe. He was blameless, upright, feared God, and never lifted his messages from sermons.com without giving proper attribution.
He had two sons and two daughters who never misbehaved in his growing church of two thousand, and he had just been honored as “Pastor of the Year” by his district.
And behold there came a day when Satan appeared before God, and the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant, Pastor Joe? For there is no pastor like him in all the land for he is blameless, upright, fearing Me, and never turning in his district reports late.”
And Satan answered God, “Does Pastor Joe fear God for nothing? Have You not blessed his average attendance figures? But cause his offerings to dip and his secretary to run off with the treasurer—and $100,000—and surely he will curse You to Your face.”
And God allowed Satan to test Pastor Joe. And his offerings did dip and his secretary ran off with the treasurer—and $100,000.
Now when three members of the local ministerial association heard of Pastor Joe’s troubles, they stopped by his office to comfort him.
And Pastor Joe wept bitterly and said to his friends, “I should have stayed in business school and become an insurance salesman.”
And the pastor from the First Church of Divine Potential said to Pastor Joe. “You’ve got to keep a positive attitude about all this. Don’t cave into to negative thinking, but envision a bright future for you and your church. If you just believe it, you can achieve it.”
And Pastor Joe wept even more. “But our church is facing scandal and financial ruin.”
And the pastor from the Holy Ghost Revival Tabernacle said to Pastor Joe. “Fa-riend, something lucrative is going to happen to you! Jeee-sus is going to pour out the glorious riches of heaven upon you and your church, but first if you’ll send your seed faith gift to the Holy Ghost Revival Tabernacle. Then, God will multiply your gift a hundred, a thousand times. Just believe it!”
And Pastor Joe dropped his head on his desk top. “But I do believe.”
And the pastor from the Unified Universal Unity Center said to Pastor Joe. “Dude, I’m detecting some really negative energy here. Like, you’ve got to readjust your reality and envision a positive future. I can see it, man! Offerings are up, your secretary is busy typing up Sunday’s bulletin, and the treasurer just discovered an unposted deposit and the church has $100,000 more in the checking account than last reported.”
And Pastor Joe said, “I’m going for a walk.” And he left His comforters.
As he walked, God spoke through the dust devil spiraling across the church parking lot.
“Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.”
“Where were you when I laid the church’s foundation and declared the gates of hell should not prevail against it? Where were you when Rome attempted to wipe out Christianity and itself crumbled and Christians prevailed? Where were you when the Wesleyan revival saved England from a revolution like the one in France? Where were you there when the Puritans and Pilgrims brought Christianity to America?
“Where were you when the Azusa revival birthed the modern charismatic movement? Where were you when I changed lives at the first Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles? Where were you when I inspired contemporary Christian music and the Jesus movement? (Oh, that’s right, you were the one with the peach-fuzz beard and that awful paisley shirt.)”
Then Pastor Joe replied to the Lord, “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”
And Pastor Joe returned to his church, and his secretary and treasurer—and $100,000—were still gone, but God was there!
Copyright © 2007 James N. Watkins
Phot: Casey Horner
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