Everyone has felt burned out before. You know, the feeling that you’ve been running on fumes for weeks, and don’t even have that to give anymore? The feeling that everything will fall apart if you don’t keep your balls in the air and just stop juggling. That feeling just sucks the joy out of your soul. It makes it impossible to truly minister with God’s love and grace….because you just don’t have the energy. You have nothing to give the firstfruits of.
I think too often churches allow our pastors to get to that place. We are not careful enough to care for them, and see that their needs are met. We let them down. We, the church, can forget to be the hands and feet of Christ to them.
So, what do we do about it? How do we prevent this, or fix it if we see it’s become a problem?
1st, I think we need to let them know we see them. These men are people, just like you and I. He has his joys and his sorrows. We can acknowledge that he is here and he is seen as a man.
2nd, I think we need to minister to their families. That’s right. I think we need to be the hands and feet of Christ to his wife and children. Show them love and understanding. Don’t hold their kids to higher (sometimes impossible) standards than the other kids. Don’t expect his wife to be in the middle of everything….and if she chooses to, come alongside her and be kind.
3rd, I think we make sure the pastors have help. Whether the church has elders, deacons, or both….make sure the pastor isn’t carrying the burden of caring for the church alone.
4th, we need to allow the pastor time away from us. He needs time to himself, he needs time alone with his wife, he needs time with his family, he needs time with other pastors. Naturally, he wants to serve and love on the church he shepherds…..but sometimes he needs to fill other roles (like husband, father, comrade). Give him freedom to fill all the roles he has…including that of “child of God”.
There may be many other ways we can help our pastor. When he has his needs filled, and isn’t running on empty, he can give his firstfruits to God in service to the church. He can give *his* best to God as he serves.
How would you help your pastor to give his best?
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. My schedule (and mind) have been filled with business, a new Bible study, school, and family. God has put something very heavily on my heart today, and I feel that I must write it, and publish it, today.
There has been a lot of controversy over our current political season. In all honesty, I have seen vitriol and ad hominem attacks more this year than in any similar period in my recollection. I find it so sad that we have gotten so caught up in our own opinions and the personalities involved that we can no longer show kindness to one another.
How can we say we give our firstfruits, our best efforts, to God when we treat each other like this? Jesus said the 2 greatest commandments are “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22: 37-39). He also said “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35). In order to give the firstfruits of our effort, we must follow the greatest commandments, we must show our love to one another.
I honestly believe that, for Christians, who wins the election (or any election) matters much less than how we treat one another. Our first and foremost thought must be showing people who we are, shining God’s light into the world. We do this by loving each other. We do this by making the Christian community one of love and truth. We do this by seeing each other the way Christ sees us…both ourselves and the others around us.
I ask that you truly consider this season how your words reflect Christ. Would He say the same things to believers, in the same tone and with the same attitude, as what you are saying to His people? Even when we disagree, we must remember to give each other grace and speak to one another in love. Only when we are not in conflict with one another may we approach God. Jesus said that if we know there is conflict, we must set aside our offerings and make it right before we approach the altar.
Let us stand in love with one another, hand in hand. As we agree on the facts in Scripture about Who Jesus is and what He did, let us give each other grace in all other discussions. Let us love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Let love be the defining feature of our interactions, our words, and our deeds. Let us forgive others, and seek forgiveness from anyone we may have wronged. Then, we can give the Firstfruits of our labor to God.
Worship is a big buzz-word. But what does it really entail? The kids and I have been reading through 1 Samuel the last couple of weeks, and the story of Hannah has really caught my attention. Every year, her family went to the Tabernacle at Shiloh. It’s not made clear if this is for Passover, FirstFruits, or the Day of Atonement (the 3 feasts they were commanded to gather for celebration and sacrifice), but I honestly think the lessons apply here. Continue Reading…
Have you ever wondered what it must have been like for Ruth? No, not a recent Ruth, but the Ruth of the Bible. I mean, she landed in quite a pickle! So, she was married to someone from a foreign land (probably without any choice) and had to learn their strange ways. At some point, her father-in-law, brother-in-law, and husband died. Her mother-in-law, whom she loved dearly, decides to go back to her homeland…and Ruth follows! She is often revered as an ancestress of Christ and a paragon of womanhood….so, in just what ways can we be like her? Continue Reading…
Tragic. Heart-wrenching. Causing anguish. There are so many things going on right now that are so wrong. There are people dying. There is so much hatred from one group for another, in so many instances. A police officer shoots a suspect. Was it warranted, or was it the product of bias? Snipers ambush police officers because of perceived (real or imagined) bias on the part of other officers. Someone walks into a building (a church, a club, a theater, a school) and harms or kills people (with a gun, with a bomb, with a knife). Saying it’s sad is quite an understatement.
The question that God has challenged me with is this: where was the Church? Not my individual local body of believers, but the group of Americans that identify with Him. Can we really say that we are putting God first and giving Him our best? Where were we when children were growing up without fathers? Where were we when a young woman found herself unmarried, pregnant, and afraid….or with a child but without a husband to support and help? Where were we when society taught children that the skin color or occupation of a person made a difference about the worth of a person? Continue Reading…
This weekend we celebrate Independence Day. That’s the time w e remember the signing of the Declaration of Independence and becoming a nation in our own right. It marks the birthday of our country, but also reminds us of where we, as a nation, came from. These men said this: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection from Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor. Can you imagine the resolve of these men? To pledge life, money, and honor in the pursuit of something for their progeny is a big deal! It makes me consider what they were leaving, and what they hoped to create with the help of “Divine Providence” (yep, folks….that would be God!). Continue Reading…
You want it so bad. It’s been promised. You have faith that it will be yours. You’ve wanted it for *so* *long*. Now you see it, almost in front of you. It’s not something you could ever get on your own, but God has given you a way to have it. Because He promised.
Just imagine the Israelites as they have crossed the Jordan River on dry ground while it’s at flood stage. The miracle sustains their faith. They’re here. Finally here. They’ve wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Can you imagine wanting something that long…watching your grandparents and parents die without reaching the goal? Finally here. *This* is what God promised. But wait. The first city, the very first conquest, isn’t for you. This one is God’s. Continue Reading…
You’ve got to put it in to get it out. My mother-in-law has given us some plants from her garden. I must admit, I don’t have the greenest of thumbs. We also don’t have the greatest soil here, which means amending the soil or getting good soil and putting it in pots. I’ve opted to add potting soil to normal soil in pots. It takes work to get these plants going. Continue Reading…
Empty. I don’t even feel like I have fumes in my tank to run on. I woke up feeling touched-out, crabby, and generally not wanting to do anything with anyone. Part of that is because, frankly, I need to get much better at self-care. And part of it is that I’m not taking time to listen to God’s voice in my life. Continue Reading…
The first. The best. These are the qualifications for the offering to be brought at Firstfruits. An offering from the second harvest wasn’t acceptable. It wasn’t okay to bring your leftovers, or what you didn’t want. This is also true for my service, my offering, to Him. Ephesians 6:7 says: Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. That means I can’t just do a halfway job. Everything I do has to be done with everything I have. I must give my best effort.