Monday, March 31, 2008

What you might not know about your pastor...

What does it take to knock you to the floor? In boxing terminology, do you have a "glass jaw" - easily knocked out? What weakens your knees?

For me, as a pastor, NOTHING packs a harder punch to my gut than to see sheep in the flock making decisions and choices that destroy their lives. It gives me that "sick in the stomach" feeling, and also tempts me to doubt my role in their lives. Is it my fault? Have I failed to teach and guide them along God's path?

Today I'm reeling. I feel like I've been through 3 rounds with Clubber Lang. I'm looking for the bell to ring. Three times in the past few days I've received news of more casualties in the making. I know, it "goes with the territory", and "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen".

If your pastor(s) is truly a shepherd please encourage and pray for him. Not only does he have his own life to live with its challenges [What? A pastor's life has challenges?], but he also is there to carry broken sheep and goes after the straying. And regardless of what he or you might think, he's not superman.

I've also been greatly encouraged at the same time. In the last 24 hours I've received two messages via the internet that God used to pick me up off the mat. One was from a guy I discipled and taught 30 years ago when he was in high school. He's still going strong for the Lord. The other was from total strangers who attended our church yesterday with their adult daughter. They said the sermon was as though I had sat in on their conversation with her on Friday night. She's got some life-altering choices to make in the next couple of days, and what I said yesterday apparently was like it was crafted for her.

And yesterday a young couple who have been attending our church for a while came up and shared how God is directing their lives to change some things and make some right choices!

I'm not asking for any sympathy. But what I would hope is that the many who read this blog and are involved in churches would realize that their pastors are called to trudge through a lot of heartache and tragedy, and most of the time have to keep it to themselves. Thank God for him/them. Let your pastor(s) know you pray often for him/them and are appreciative of their work on your behalf. Do something unexpected to bless him.

I'm blessed to be a leader in an incredible, healthy church. And I know I've got it better than most. So it's those "most" I'm writing for today.

Just don't take them for granted. Sometimes the kitchen just gets too hot and the burdens seem too great. Don't let him throw in the towel because the punches hurt too much.

14 comments:

marcia said...

Rick not only have you been trying to minister to all who come through your doors at NHC throughout the week, but you have suddenly found yourself in the position of pastoring people who have felt your heart reaching out to them over the internet both through your blog and Nathan's. How very cool that God brought you some affirmation from both of those places in the last couple of days, when you needed it most. You just provided anecdotal evidence to support the words of Isaiah 40 that Nate just posted this morning! It's pretty easy to figure out where Nate learned his ability to be so authentic and transparent. :) Amazing how God uses "real" people to reach other people exactly where they are at in life. Keep doing what you have apparently been doing well for over thirty years, Rick Lawrenson! Remember that your job is to just keep planting seeds...the battle belongs to the Lord! Seems to me, from afar, that you have been doing a great job of planting those seeds! My prayers are with you!

OBX Rox said...

I do pray for you, being one of the "flock-ees" myself, because I know the burden you carry for your flock. Seeing that, almost 10 years ago, is what helped us decide Nags Head was the local church we wanted and we've always been happy that God agreed and wanted us there, too! I've never had a moment's doubt that you put the spiritual health of those under your leadership in a top-priority spot in your heart. From my own past experiences and present situations I know of from friends, that's just not the case in every church. I never take that for granted at NHC. Thank you for that.

MilePost13 said...

thanks for being my pastor.

ashleyinjersey said...

My kids and I always bake something special for our pastor on Saturday nights and bring it to him on Sunday morning. It provides us with a nice family bonding time while we bake, as well as helps us show our appreciation to our Pastor. We also give him and his family a gift card to a local restaurant for each holiday so that they can enjoy a nice meal. He certainly is very appreciative and is a wonderful pastor!

the add youth pastor said...

I think Ashleyinjersey's idea is a fantastic one!
Sometimes when it is hot in the kitchen we just need someone to come along and turn on the exhaust fan to help remove some of the heat. That happens when someone makes a tough but right choice.

Bonnie said...

When I came to NHC 8 years ago (can it possibly be that long?) I was in a terrible place, spiritually. I was beaten down, discouraged, disheartened, depressed, and drifting. I told someone after a few weeks, that it was like water being poured on a dry, baked, cracked desert. At first, the 'land' was so dry, the water just sat on top. Then, it started being absorbed so rapidly, it was hard to keep up with the demand. Gradually, over time, with excellent teaching, encouragement, involvement, and friends, the desert wasteland has been replaced with more fertile soil. God has used you and the other pastors and worshippers at NHC to do a wonderful thing in my life. Thank you.

CJolly said...

Just because it goes with the territory doesn't mean it's easy, and I think most of us understand that. We probably don't understand the real weight of the burden you carry, but please know that you are appreciated and loved by your flock.

Disney Scrapper said...

As the wife of a minister I have been amazed at how my husband seems to handle things (wish I could say the same for me....I am praying on that one). I don't think people understand how much of a sacrifice Pastors make each day for their flock. The challenge for Pastors is to balance all of the many hats they wear. We are learning that this year as my husband has taking in two rolls...one as an interim pastor while still maintaining his position as youth director at our church and working his job! I have to remember to appreciate him myself. Thanks for the reminder.

Rick Lawrenson said...

So here's more of what I have to put up with. I got this email this morning from someone in our church:

"Hey Preacher,
I saw a dead raccoon today. I hope god is not killing animals just to remind me to pray for you. Because I pray for you and I thank God for you daily."

marcia said...

Oh, I haven't laughed so hard in a LONG time!!! Was this an anonymous e-mail? Is it someone's idea of an April Fool's joke? I just can't stop giggling! I'll bet it's from one of those other Lawrensons!! :):)

Rick Lawrenson said...

It wasn't from one of the Lawrensons! But from one of our guys with a sense of humor.

Terry Gray Sr. said...

Rick,
This is from one of the ones that is probably not considered one of the flock, but I like what I have been seeing and hearing at NHC. I guess I am one of the ones that has had his eyes opened a bit wider by following along with Nate's blog and seeing how Nate and his family have placed every bit of trust and faith in God.

I also think that your sermons have been very enlightning, and I think that some of the times they were designed just for me. I am sure others have felt that too.

I have called on you a few times in the past when troubles confronted me, you were always willing to listen and offer prayer that eased my mind and helped me through my families difficulties. For that I thankful. But I am also thankful that you are leading NHC in what I feel are challenging and powerful times ahead. As I have stated in the past, the things that have been shown to me recently by not only you, the Church, and more especially Nate and his family have caused me to look more closely at my life, and consider am I really where I want to be with my relationship with God.

I will be praying for you Rick, for you are truely a blessing to many.

Bonnie said...

I don't get the connection between the dead 'coon and you...what am I missing here?

Rick Lawrenson said...

"I don't get the connection between the dead 'coon and you...what am I missing here?"

Bonnie, you'll have to ask George.