Summary: 1 of 5 messages on things I struggle with as a Pastor. This message is on the sense of inadequacy to the task of the ministry - feelings that all Christians have at times in their walk with God.
October 7, 2007 – Confessions of a Pastor
Sometimes I feel Inadequate
Ministry has changed a lot in 35 years
Typewriters, IBM Selectrics, and bulletins printed on a Rex-Rotary mimeograph – think big metal rotating drum with lot’s of tiny holes filled with black sticky ink that you carefully covered with a waxy stencil so you could print up your programs. Got it? Now think – messy and dirty.
Artwork that was scratched into the stencils with a stylus and plastic backing plate
Correction fluid that could make you were floating if you used it in a room where there wasn’t good ventilation.
Handwritten sermons that were penned on 8 ½ x 14 pages folded in half. If I wanted to change the outline I had to rewrite from the beginning – so I didn’t change the outline around very much!
Recordings were done with 8 inch reel to reel tape recorders that were the size of a suitcase using a microphone that looked like the grill from your father’s Oldsmobile.
The office phones were connected to the one line that came into the building, had rotary dials and were also connected through a party line to my home phone.
Calling on folks in their homes by the preacher was expected. And when he came you invited him in gave him a cup of coffee and a cookie or two. If it was near supper time you pulled up an extra chair, set an extra place and he ate with the family.
The church had area men’s meeting where different ministers preached the men shared a potluck dinner prepared by the wives and then played a game of darts.
A lot of things have changed over the years.
One thing has never changed and never will…
Ministry is hard work
There is never enough time, way too many expectations, and far too many comparisons.
The longer I’m a pastor the more I confront the reality that I don’t know enough, I’m not good enough, and that I’ve made too many mistakes.
It’s easy to come to the conclusion that I’m in way over my head.
There are many days that I wonder how God could ever get any real lasting good out of a man like me.
But I am not the only one with feelings like this. Moses protested to God that he couldn’t communicate well. Gideon hid in a winepress. Saul hid among the suitcases and baggage from those who were to make him king. Solomon humbly prayed for wisdom because he recognized the enormity of the task. Peter, in anguish on the beach with Jesus couldn’t bring himself to say use the agape word. Saul cried out that he was the chief of all sinners.
It’s easy to say – “Who am I that God would ever use me for anything worthy of his kingdom?” And this sentiment is not only felt by pastors like me. We all struggle – when we’re feeling particularly honest – with that terrible burden of inadequacy when it comes to the holy things of God.
This is nothing new. Consider the case of a man named Isaiah.
Isaiah saw God
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.
Isaiah saw God
3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the door posts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
Imagine what it was like for Isaiah to see God in all his glory, high and exalted with the train of his robe filling the temple and angels called seraphs with six wings. They were singing Holy, Holy, Holy with voices that rattled the doorways and filled the temple with smoke.
This is not your ordinary choir. This is the glory of God.
In Ezekiel 1 there is a description of the glory of God that is even more powerful. It describes an incredible vision:
4 I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, 5 and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, 6 but each of them had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. 8 Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, 9 and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.