Being a pastor is a great privilege that carries with the calling a great responsibility to care for people, to study the scriptures, and to maintain a lifestyle of constant prayer. With these responsibilities come stress, misunderstandings, and the pressure to be a lot of things to a lot of people. When this stress reaches a tipping point, pastors, like everyone else, want relief.
Obviously, our only source for lasting peace and sustained strength is God, and He is more than enough for a pastor or anyone else. Unfortunately, the world offers cheap and easy escapes, including one that is not on most pastor’s radars. The first four on the list are most often noted as counterfeit ways to dodge the realities that weigh us down.
1. Illegal drugs or legal drugs used foolishly
2. Excessive alcohol
3. Food eaten just to comfort us and not to nourish
4. Illicit sex
But there is a fifth form of medication, one that most pastors are addicted to without even knowing. It’s the addiction of adoring crowds. Big crowds, little crowds, and medium size crowds—all have the power to medicate our egos and soothe our hidden pain. Why do you think it is so hard many times for a pastor to transition the church to his successor? They certainly want the next guy to take the baton while the light is burning brightly, but they cannot seem to leave the stage and the crowds. They cannot imagine a life without a microphone and pulpit.
We are not performers on a stage hoping for good reviews, and our identity is not derived from the laughs prompted by well-timed jokes. We are pastors tasked with a sacred assignment, and our identity is and always should be as servant Christ-followers who are using the gifts God gave us. We are just a part of the body, not the focus of the body.
I love the people who sit in front of me each weekend. They are my family and my friends. I enjoy teaching them the scriptures, and I love what happens when the teaching connects with their listening hearts and seeing eyes. The miracles, answered prayers, and changed lives more than trump the difficulties of the pastoral vocation.
The moment we stop seeing people’s faces and remembering their stories, we will only see a mass of people who exist for our soulish benefit. I love a good laugh, a touching story that brings us to tears and I am fine with the family applauding when the pastor needs honest applause. I just want to be sure my heart gets life, healing, and strength from something more eternal. I want to take the right medicine before I stand before the crowd so I do not settle for something that will only make matters worse.
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