Sunday, October 6, 2013

IN THE MIDST OF "DELUSIONAL" MEN

Years ago there was a young man in our fellowship that decided he was going to venture out and start his own business. Throughout his being a part of our community my husband had encouraged and supported this man in his endeavors. In spite of the fact that others considered him socially awkward my husband saw a man in need of affirmation and fellowship. One day this man came to our home offering his professional services and after some consideration we had to decline. The moment my husband let him know we were not interested his demeanor changed. Obviously offended he decided he was going to tell my husband what he really thought of our community and his pastor. Sitting in our living room he looked straight at my husband and said, "When are you going to realize you are delusional?"  He went on to question the call of God, in my husbands life, and "exhorted" him to give up.

Why did this man think my husband was delusional? Was it because our community was not in the hundreds or thousands? Could it be my husband did not fit a certain mold for today's pastor or leader? Was it that my husband never managed a successful business or served as an executive in a fortune 500 company? It was obvious his words, spoken from hurt and rejection, were meant to humiliate.

Since the month of October is pastor appreciation month I thought I would give a big shout out to all the men and women who have been told they are "delusional" for following the call of God. 

Just this past week I was in Kalamazoo attending a conference with pastors from around the country. During one of the breakout sessions I heard the stories of men and women who have given their lives to serve God and others. As these servant-leaders shared their stories, with authenticity and transparency, tears starting streaming down my face. But, why was I crying? In each story there was a common denominator that spoke to a deep place within my spirit. What touched me were the hearts of shepherds who are willing to give anything and everything to answer the call of God.

Story after story I heard the familiar burden of true shepherds. These are the unknown soldiers, serving in the trenches, who cannot abandon the call to serve. Many of these men ,according to western church thinking, fall into the category of delusional, unsuccessful, ill-equipped and failures. But I would suggest the following:

  • These are the men who have prayed and pleaded, before God's throne, for our families. Would any person selflessly do this?
  • These are the men who study God's Word so, above all else, our souls prosper. Is that not worth more than gold? 
  • These are the men, with the eyes of a shepherd, who see us wandering before we realize we have strayed. Are not their words of counsel and wisdom worth paying attention too? 
  • These are the men who in spite of adversity, disappointment and hardship endure to the end. Shouldn't we encourage and support them along the way?
  • These are the men who give of their own limited funds to help you pay your bills when your in need. Did you know that?
  • These are the men that rejoice with you when your child is born, you get a job promotion and your children marry. Ask yourself, when was the last time you rejoiced for your pastor?
  • These are the men who will admit they are far from perfect and, at times, will make imperfect decisions. Are they not worthy of our mercy and patience? 
  • These are the men that, when the phone rings at 5:30 am, are willing to get out of bed and meet with you as well as minister to your need. Would we do the same?
  • These are the men that, when they are on vacation, will always answer your distressing phone call and never let it go to voice mail. Are we on call 24-7?
  • These are the men that sacrifice their lives, and family needs, for a salary that rarely covers their living expenses. Would we do the same?
After I complied my short, but by no means exhaustive, list I would like to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for having the same courage as Noah, to build an ark without one convert or sign of rain. To have the faithfulness of Abraham, the humility of David, the boldness of Elijah, the tears of Jeremiah, the courage of Daniel, the vision of Nehemiah and Ezra, the thankfulness of the Apostles, the strength of Paul and the persistence of John.

Thessalonians 5: 12 – 13 says: “And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders, who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love.

Grace and Peace

Jeannette