I heard a portions of a few different sermons yesterdays, one or two of them, I think almost in their entirety. And while I thought two of them I could tie together for today's post, wouldn't you know it, the second part that I thought was good, I can't remember. Does that qualify as writer's block? Either way, it's gonna drive me nuts for a while, but hopefully not for too long.
So, the portion of the one sermon I wanted to utilize mentioned the story of the prodigal son. Of course, the parable describes how God our Father welcomes the return of one who has walked away from a relationship with Him. Sadly, it also describes the brother's reaction, which if you think it about, represents the body of Christ... those who have never back-slid or left the church, if you will. But what about the other positive influences in the son's life?
Have you figured out where this is leading?
Pastors never enjoy hearing about someone in the church "going astray". Leaving the church, leaving the faith, abandoning their relationship with God and anything having to do with the church... put your own descriptive on the event. But I can't fathom how difficult it must be for pastors whose ministry emphasis is children and teens.
Even now, I'm pondering the reaction of my own youth pastor from 20+ years ago, if he had heard that was far, far away from God. Sure, it's a heart-breaking scenario, but truly, how does it hit them? It's hard to deny the real possibility of the raw questions that would keep them awake.
Did they miss something?
Did they not spend enough time with them?
Were there not enough conversations?
Did the conversations they had not get through?
Did they not help establish a proper foundation of faith?
Was there more they could have done to help the parents?
Were the lessons and sermons not relevant or applicable?
Perhaps I didn't make as much of a difference as I thought?
It's hard to say, really. I'd love to tell you that for every pastor the answer to such questions and more that they might face upon hearing of a prodigal from their ministry, would be no... that they couldn't answer confidently, I did everything I could, to the best of my ability with every person under my ministry. Yet, realistically, the possibility that perhaps more could have been done and said must be considered. And of course, that's something that only the pastor can work out in their own relationship with God and the help of the Holy Spirit.
Regardless, such are the circumstances that contribute one more stepping stone on the path to burnout. So on that note...
Let us pray this #youthPastorWednesday, for those struggling (with however often it happens and they hear about it) with the ministry as it relates to prodigals. May they be strengthened and encouraged that they labor not in vain, even as life happens and people turn away from God rather than drawing closer. May such instances not create an opening for the enemy to create doubt, fear and instill a spirit of frustration that would stand in the way of the impact of their current ministry. Pray that if there is an element in their ministry that could use improvement (as we almost always have something in our life for which is the case) that God would grant them that insight and wisdom as to go about making the necessary changes. Pray God would strengthen their resolve to help raise up strong believers to will hold tightly to the hand of God no matter what life and the enemy of their souls would come against them.
For greater is He who is in us,
Than he that is in the world.
For we are His.
Bought with a price.
Ordained for good works,
Before the foundation of the world.
For the glory of God.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.