Recently my family and I took a two week vacation together. It was great. There were many things I took away from spending back to back weeks out of the routine of day to day ministry related tasks: meetings, sermons, phone calls, etc. Much of what the Lord showed me during my time away has leaked out in a few different areas, including the current sermon series our church is going through in Luke’s gospel. The overall picture is this: we’re busy and vacations aren’t the answer, Jesus is. I found that when I stopped the “activity” of ministry for two solid weeks several things bubbled to the surface of my heart, and they weren’t that great. They were however, a mercy from God. I was reminded again how needy I am (daily, hourly, moment by moment) for the sustaining grace and presence of Jesus in my life. No matter how busy I am in the things of life and ministry, there’s one thing that can never be dropped or marginalized in my life.
Then I started thinking about pastors in general. I thought about the somewhat strange dynamic of standing in front of people each week, needing to be the one who’s excited and encouraging and full of the Spirit, no matter how your week’s been. And I thought about the pressure (often self-imposed) that we put on ourselves to seem “super-spiritual” on Sundays and how silly that can be. Then, as I was reading in Hebrews the Lord blessed me with a picture of pastoral ministry (sort of). In Hebrews 5, the author is contrasting the high priest in Israel with Jesus (the true, eternal high priest). Now, the high priests weren’t pastors per se, but there were similar dynamics at work. So in his comparison the author points out how the high priests had to offer sacrifices, not just for the people, but for themselves. Why? They were sinners too. Verse two puts it beautifully:
He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. (Hebrews 5:2 ESV)
Here’s the picture–the man serving others in sacrificing animals for a covering over their sin, is in their same boat. He’s just as needy of the sacrifice as they are. I think this a very helpful picture for us pastors to observe and emulate. We come each Sunday to be with people who are struggling and needy and discouraged and confused and looking for answers. We don’t come to them as the answer, but our job is to point them to Jesus; because we too are beset with weakness. We too are in need of a thriving walk with Him. That doesn’t come any more naturally to pastors than non-pastors, just so you know. So, pastors we can be gentle and honest with people because we all need the same Jesus. We’re all looking to Him to come through in the end on our behalf.
I was reminded again that the best thing I can give my church and my family is a man who is pursuing Jesus more than anything else. He’s the one who’s perfect, not me. His holiness has earned salvation, not mine. He’s our boast, our reward. So even though we’re pastors, we too are beset with weakness. Let’s bring that weakness to Jesus and ask Him to show His strength through us. Amen.