The Runaway Pastor – Daniel Bramlett
For the next two weeks I am going to address a very particular group of people. This is a group of people I happen to know quite a bit about! I’m talking about our area pastors. I want to do this here so each of you can be exposed to some of the hurdles and bullets we face on a weekly basis. I want you to get a glimpse of the challenges we encounter as we seek to lead our churches. So, will you read these next two articles prayerfully and then pass them on to your Shepherd? When you place them in his hand tell him that you love him and appreciate the work he does. Look him in the eye and mean what you say. I pray these will be encouraging for you, too, Pastor. (To my First Baptist family, please be assured that I wrote this article for the first time several years ago and for a place far away from here.)
Do you remember the last time you wanted to run away? I don’t ask if, as a Caregiver, you’ve ever wanted to get out of Dodge, because I know that’s a given! I know I remember the last time I wanted to leave. It was today! Tell me if your situation was (or is) similar to mine. I got a call from a church member who said another one of our families is leaving. Something about not being satisfied and being unhappy with the leadership. Then one of our leaders let me know that he and his family were leaving. I was stunned. I didn’t know what to say. And I was left holding the bag, his bag, adding to my own already overflowing bag. As if that wasn’t enough, I have a sore throat! I wanted to leave!
I know what it feels like to want to run. I know any of us that do a good job could always find somewhere else to go. The dream of something better, something different, at least some different faces is always appealing. But then I remember what God has called me to do. He has not called me to build my ego or my self-esteem. He has not called me to succeed by my own standards or anyone else’s standards that have been set for me.
He has not called me to be happy-go-lucky all of the time. He has called me to this place, this church, this field, and for me that is life. He has called me to love and walk with this group of people and not any other. I understand the day may come when He will move me and my family, but hat day is not this day and that day will never rise out of a frustrated heart or an angry soul. We’ll feel more like an immigrant than a runaway when that day comes. So wait for it.
If you feel like I do, like putting on your running shoes and renting a U-Haul, I would challenge you to do just the opposite. Run to the problem. Run to the conversation you don’t want to have. Run to the member with the most complaints and love them unconditionally. Run to the difficult circumstances and demonstrate the patience of Jesus. Run to the source of that hateful remark and smother it with kindness. Run to another Missionary and seek encouragement and advice. More than anything, run to your Father and pour out your heart, trusting that He will treat you gently and know that He will not let you get away with anything.
The hope of every Minister is to look our Shepherd in the eye and hear those much sought after words: “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” That’s our heart. No matter what anyone says about us, that’s who we are. Sure, we’re human and we make mistakes. Face it; some of the difficult circumstances we encounter are created by us. But that doesn’t lessen our call or our responsibility to it.
Even if we hurt the sheep, we’re still called to bandage its wounds. Even if we light the fire, we’re still called to put it out. Determine now to not find yourself one day sitting in a pile of smoldering ashes of a
fire that you started and refused for whatever reason to put out. Don’t run away. Whether the disaster was arson or your self-destructive tendencies, face it and watch God bring beauty from the ruin. He’s in the business of life, you know. That makes life our business, too!
Will you promise yourself now to keep giving life where you are? Will you promise to sell your running shoes, remove the option, and determine to allow God to bring healing and restoration where you are? It has always been my goal to stay in one place long enough to baptize the children of children that I baptized. Let’s make it a goal to FINISH WHAT WE START AND TRUST THAT GOD WILL, TOO!