When our phones stop working, we’re told to power off the phone, wait a few moments, and power it back on. That’s where I’m at right now in my life as a pastor. I feel like my heart has been powered off and back on and that I’m waiting for the reboot to take effect. For those of us who’ve decided that we’ve been called by Jesus, to serve in the local church, sometimes the pastor’s heart needs a reboot. We need to stop, listen, pray, rest, and repeat and allow for that divine reboot to take effect.
If you’re a pastor and serve a local church, the assumption is, that God’s given you a heart for people. It’s not just about making sure your sermon is all fluffy and has the ability to rattle someone hard enough into the kingdom. It’s about actually responding to that call from God to go and be with people. Bruised and broken people, afraid to tell anyone else in the world, what it is that scares them or makes them angry. People, who in their own minds feel are not worthy of even being near the God who loves us and sets things right in the world, especially when the world is a complete mess. People who feel ashamed and guilty and wouldn’t even consider looking to the church as a place of refuge.
The reality is that the pastor’s heart sometimes gets overworked. The need to please everyone takes over and the noise of playing church some how crushes the pastor’s deep sense of call that got them to say yes to God in the first place before they were told they were allowed to call themselves pastor.
What am I doing right now? I’ve asked God to heal and set things right in my own heart. I’ve asked God to help me move forward. I’m asking God to help me fall in love again with that divine call to actually go and be with people. Not just on the inside of the church, but on the outside of the church. Don’t get me wrong. The insiders of the church need a pastor. I’m learning a lot about what it means that we pastor the insiders of our churches. There are plenty of people who understand the call we’ve been given. They get it. They’re the ones who are already in trenches. They’ve been doing it for years. They’ve been doing things missional long before the word became a fad. I’ve noticed something about these people I’ve had the opportunity to serve alongside in ministry over the years. These are people who’ve been broken, understand what it means to be broken, and who’ve allowed Jesus to lead their lives, and who care about inviting the outside world to come to the same table, we all sit at when it comes to following Jesus and experiencing Jesus face to face. These are people who recognize their brokenness, trust God with it, and fully comprehend who Jesus actually came for and who get that Jesus calls us to go and be with the forgotten of the world. I’m also learning that it takes time for the insiders to get to that divine place of owning together the hard work of doing God’s mission in the world with those on the outside.
Pastor’s aren’t called, just to sit at a desk, push paper, and write sermons that move people to singing kum-ba-ya, hold hands, and wait for Jesus to return. At the end of the day, the pastor has been called to help the outsiders know that they’re just as welcomed to the table as the insider. I know I’ve been called by God, to believe, that the outsiders, who live in our neighborhoods, work in our cities, are asking the same questions, many of us on the insides of our churches are asking. “Lord, when are you going to come back and make things right again?”
One of the biggest helps at rebooting my heart has been the freedom to just go and camp out in a pew. I’ve visited a few churches. Some large, some small. I’ve preached at a couple of churches, I care about deeply and pray that God will help them remain faithful. I’ve been able to watch and listen to some good preachers who are gifted and have a heart for helping reshape how their churches view their communities and their call to own their parish around them. Not just their buildings, but their neighborhoods.
At the end of the day, I’ve found that the best place to reboot is home. My home church has been really formative in my call to follow Jesus and serve the church over the years. It’s the church where I came to faith in Jesus. It’s where a group of people loved and prayed for me. It’s the church where I promised my wife that I’d love her for the rest of my life, and it’s the church where I heard that call to go.
It’s been hard going home, but it’s been a good place to regroup, lick my wounds, and reclaim, with God’s help, my heart and soul for not throwing in the towel, not walking away, and finally getting back to the work of helping others fall in love with God’s sacred mission of helping others experience the rabbi Jesus, face to face, with no strings attached, a come as you are message, that is still able to do great things, in the name of Jesus.