We pastors are a strange lot. We have been called and commissioned by God, empowered beyond our own resources, and granted the privilege of caring for His flock.
And yet we still struggle with fear and insecurity. We still wrestle with our own flesh. And we will always, it seems, face the reality of rejection.
Growing up as a PK (preacher’s kid), I knew that pastors were far from perfect. I also knew the flock sometimes bites their shepherd. I’d seen my dad deal with the hurt that a parishioner can inflict many times. In fact, for that reason, in my teens I told God, “I will do anything for you but become a preacher!” (God just smiled!)
Many times, however, I also heard the accolades my dad received from those he had impacted. Hundreds and hundreds of people called my dad “pastor” with pride. To this day, though he has been with Jesus for nearly 14 years, I still get an occasional email or card telling me of my dad’s influence in someone’s life.
What baffled me as a child, and frankly still amazes me as an adult, is how quickly a pastor can go from awesome to awful in the minds of some.
Every Sunday I have the honor of standing before my community of faith and proclaiming God’s Word. I love my job. I love my call. I love our people. I was made to do what I do and cannot imagine doing anything else.
But every Sunday, I am keenly aware that I am being evaluated as well. Some will like me and what they hear; others will not.
Some will leave after a service and think, “How did that guy ever end up a pastor, and what in blazes is he thinking wearing jeans to church?”
Others will make a beeline for me after a service and say, “That was the best message I’ve ever heard! You’re the best pastor I’ve ever had!” And I smile, not in cynicism but in the knowledge that we humans (and I include me in that we) are a capricious clan.
I am always grateful for the encouragement and kind words but also painfully aware of the fickleness of human nature. That very same person who patted me on the back sometimes ends up punching me in the gut weeks, months or years later as they exit our church in a tizzy.
Rejection is hard.
Here are some things I’ve learned about this along the way:
In one of the longest chapters in the New Testament (John 6), Jesus miraculously feeds 5,000 hungry people, and as a result they want to make Him king! Later, He walks on water and blows the minds of His disciples. But after a difficult teaching, one that ticked off a bunch of people, many disciples deserted Jesus. The very people who once thought He was awesome now rejected Him as awful.
Jesus felt the pain. He was God, but He was also human.
He turned to the 12, and I am certain with angst in His voice, He asked, “Do you want to leave Me too?”
Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”
I’m sure Jesus appreciated Pete’s loyalty at the moment, but He knew that one of them was a betrayer (Judas) and that all of them would eventually flee from His side in fear.
But you know what amazes me? Jesus loved these guys anyway. He never gave up on them. He never lost focus. He never quit.
My prayer is, “God, help me to be much more like Your Son. Help me to stay the course even if that course takes me to a cross. Help me to love even when I am not loved and to forgive as I have been forgiven. Help me to remember it never has been and never will be about me.”
Kurt Bubna has been in pastoral ministry since 1976 and now serves as senior pastor of Eastpoint Church, a large, vibrant, growing, creative and community-focused congregation in Spokane Valley, Wash. Kurt's first book, Epic Grace: Chronicles of a Recovering Idiot (Tyndale), is available online or in bookstores. He has traveled extensively as a speaker and short-term missionary in Great Britain, Central America and Asia.
For the original article, visit pastors.com.