Ministry Today – Serving and empowering church leaders

A Gut Check in the Dark

 For the already overworked pastor, the challenges of this season mean one thing: It’s gut-check time.


Dark times draw out the best in the church. Jesus called us the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:14), and as more people show up at church in dire straits during these dark economic days, we have an unprecedented opportunity to reflect the true Light as we meet both physical and spiritual needs. But as great as that sounds, any church leader knows that being a city on a hill takes work. Late-night calls. Budgets pushed to the limit. Limited family time. Weeks without a day off. For the already overworked pastor, the challenges of this season mean one thing: It’s gut-check time.

I lead a team under the same working code as the majority of American employees today: Do more work in less time. No one’s getting an extra dime for producing two, three, even four times as much as in the past. To a person, this isn’t just a stretching time; it’s gut-check time.

My team members, like pastors everywhere, essentially have two options in facing the season: They can grit their teeth and barely survive while dreaming of the day the storms pass; or they can know they’ve been appointed by God to be here for such a time as this, stand up in the raging storm and be prepared to take the blows while persevering for a higher purpose.

Those aren’t words I’ve offered lately to coerce people into working harder; they’re the truth for every follower of Christ today, whether you serve on a church staff, work a desk job or run a ministry. This is not a season for laying low or keeping status quo. We must have God-given assurance that we’re in the right position, at the right time, equipped with the right assignment.

I’ll never forget a basketball game I played in during my senior year of high school. Our team was down by a single point with about 20 seconds left on the clock. Coach had called a timeout but said little during it other than this: “You know the play. You know what to do. Now go do it.” As the point guard walking the ball up the court, I didn’t feel the normal butterflies in my stomach, but instead total confidence. Why? Because every player knew exactly where he should be and what he should be doing.

The American church is facing the same countdown (minus the Hoosiers-like melodrama). As believers, we must be certain of what we’ve been called to do. And as church leaders, it’s imperative that we’re in exactly the right spot at the right time, guiding those who need assistance to their places on the court of life. Settle for anything less and you’ll either be miserable, unfruitful or both. But walk precisely where He’s called you to be and you’ll open the floodgates for kairos moments that echo your whispered prayers of, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done.”

If lately you’ve sensed something askew in your ministry, I urge you to soberly reconsider your place with the Spirit’s guiding. I’m not encouraging you to abandon your ministry calling just because you’re tired, frustrated and feeling down. But I am asking you to do a gut check. The world doesn’t need another out-of-position “pastor by default” who actually should be leading a business, school or bank. It needs people shining their lights in this season. And it needs pastors who know how to ignite and reignite those people’s lights, even as the darkness grows—because that’s what they were made to do.


 

Marcus Yoars is the editor of Ministry Today.

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