The Heartbeat

Last week I wrote you about pacing yourself. I have been thinking on that for a number of days so allow me to deal with that a bit more…

Many years ago I visited a couple who had visited the church (LEFC). They lived in a very modest, run-down house way up by the Middle Creek Wildlife Preserve. I cannot remember what the fellow's occupation was but I do remember three things quite distinctly: 1. He told me that wherever they lived and whatever church they were part of, he became the pastor's best friend, 2. He told me that he himself, for some time, had personally been involved in pastoral leadership, and 3. He told me that his philosophy of doing ministry was to "work hard for two years and then just slide." The first of those points had made me quite leary of the fellow while that final point left me driving home that day thinking, "I have little in common with this couple and I sincerely hope they don't continue attending the church." They didn't and as to whatever became of them, I have no idea.

"Work hard for two years and then just slide." Boy, you talk about marching to the beat of a different drummer! No wonder the place they lived in looked like a dump. "Just slide." That may work some places, but it will not work at Burning Hearts. I thank God for the example of hard work that our area's Amish and Mennonites have set and in so doing instilled into the very fabric of this county.

So back to the idea of pacing yourself… I think there is a tension here that exists, and should exist. On the one hand you do need to see your pastoral ministry with a wide-angle lens, trying somehow to take it all in. This is not just a job for a year or two, or ten or twenty, but for the bulk of your adult life. And if all goes well, you may even be so blessed as to never leave Burning Hearts. So, you should gear yourself up for the LONG HAUL. Think long term. It is like some 37 or so years ago when, with a bit of prodding by a few church members I brought up the idea of having an Easter morning Sunrise service to the elders. To a man the elders' response was "Sounds fine, but I won't be there." None of THEM were interested. So, we never did it, because I knew if we did it even ONCE, it would likely result in us doing it EVERY year. And as none of the elders were interested it would mean I would have to handle it alone for the rest of my years of ministry. No thanks. So, think long term.

On the other hand, avoid holding back or not giving yourself fully. If you are working on a sermon and a great point comes to your mind, use it right then and there. Don't think, "Oh, this is good. I will save it for another Sunday." Don't save anything. Give every Sunday, every encounter, every meeting your best. It is like that old line they use on Broadway that "you're only as good as the next show." There is no slacking off, no "sliding" (as that church visitor had suggested). So, again, I see a tension: giving it your all, yet also knowing that you're in this for the long haul.

May God help you to find a balance between these two points.

By His Grace, Doug

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