When the preacher gets worried
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:27 (NIV)
Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
There are no exceptions to the infiltration of despair, misery, and loneliness of the spirit. At one time or another, one if not all, of these strange bedfellows will find you sleeping beside them-if you live long enough.
A young preacher friend of mine came by my office to visit me this week. The strange part about it is that I had this strong urge to call him because he was heavy on my mind. Before I could call him he was at my door.
After exchanging a bit of small talk, he asked me if he could confide in me. I hesitated for a moment because when a preacher needs to confide in someone, it must be something and being a young preacher both chronologically and pastorally, I thought only the worst.
Mulling around in my head were all sorts of things that I dare not mention. Upon reaching the conclusion that he was only a man like me, I assured him that he could if he told God first then nobody else, then I was more than willing to listen without judgment.
Life has taught some of us that, if you confide in the wrong person the whole world will know your business.
As he spoke I could see the awkwardness creep upon his face. He was telling me some of the troubling things that were transpiring in his church, coupled with not enough money to pay the mortgage.
This has got to be an uncomfortable situation for him, I thought. I tried as best I could to make him feel at ease by naming books that I had read about preachers who had experienced difficult times and often thought about leaving the vocation of the ministry. One book in particular is Preaching Through a Storm by H. Beecher Hicks Jr.
In his book, Rev. Hicks extracts from his own experiences in shepherding a church through a difficult building program. Hicks explains how to survive the storms of pastoral ministry, spiritually and emotionally.
It was obvious that my preacher friend was feeling comfortable; his mannerisms changed and he smiled and laughed more as we exchanged experiences, both good and bad.
I even mentioned to him that I was reading sermons from Rev. George Weaver and the one that I thought complemented his situation was from the Book of Ezekiel, The Valley of Dry Bones. We both laughed as we remembered ministers who had preached this sermon and how they really got into it.
We dissected what we thought it meant to be in a valley of dry bones, a place of death and desolation until God blows His breath of life upon that which is dead. “Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” Ezekiel 37:9 (KJV)
As we communicated using scriptures applied to life, I could see my friend transition from a state of pity to that of assuredness. This made me understand even more that no one is immune from life’s discomforts. But for those who choose to reinforce hope with God’s guiding principles they seem to regain their composure and strength a lot faster than those who don’t.
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)
When we finished, we ended in the Book of Ecclesiastes. From there we reassured each other that there was nothing new under the sun and when you get right down to it, we are no better than anyone of us. We all have good times and difficult times; God rains on the just as well as the unjust. Yet when we get to the crux of it all and take a look at the whole duty of man we find: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NKJV)
“Lord I pray that when my time comes to seek advice and comfort, I seek you first then find one filled with wisdom. Amen.”
WHEN GOD IS FIRST, EVERYTHING ELSE IS SECONDARY.