Letters on being a pastor

Saturday, March 07, 2009
Dear *****

Thank you for praying for Lauralea and I. It's humbling and encouraging at the same time, and I guess I want to encourage you with it all. Often the noise God makes in our heads or hearts sounds a lot like our own voice. But if you follow the promptings and the voice leads you to good things, then follow along and obey the voice. The Father knows your desire to hear him and He won't let you down, if you desire to hear him.

In your letter you wrote:
But here's a bigger question for me these days: sometimes I feel like I don't have the words, like I'm not fit to do this. Some days I don't have that kind of confidence in anything and my faith seems frail and empty. Do you ever have days like that? What do you do with them? How do you get up and preach after a week like that?

I'm not sure if doubt is necessarily the word. I'm not sure what it is I'm missing, but some days I feel empty or dry or like I'm lacking something or like there is a disconnect between me and God. And that scares me more than any of these other concerns.

It scares me because I don't want to be a minister with shallow faith; I don't want to be a minister devoid of belief who just does it because it's a job; I don't want to end up like a Charles Templeton...

I don't want to just go through the motions; I don't want to carry on simply because I can or because I'm a dynamic speaker or because of this or that.

Do you know what I mean? You've always seemed like you are very sure in your faith and in God. But do you have days/weeks like that? What do you do about it? Do you just march on in faith, hoping, trusting, wishing that a better, more faith-filled day/week comes along?

Yeah, I know what you mean.

Tonight is kinda like that for me. I feel like I've failed a couple of times this week, and it's been a weird week anyway. Though I've had a few good moments with people and God has been in the room with us, my
heart still feels tired or heavy or perhaps just a bit lost tonight.

Tomorrow I need to get up in front of people and encourage them and pray for them and be with them, but my heart feels a thousand miles away. Or more likely, it feels like God is a thousand miles away.
Those are the Sundays I don't look forward to heading into. Those are the days I struggle with.

But of course those days will come because we are human and the dynamic we have with God is one of relationship. It isn't always the same, every day. It shifts and moves and bends and stretches.

So, what do I do on nights like tonight when I know God is out there but my heart feels empty, and I need to care for people tomorrow? Well I'm honest with myself and with Him and I tell Him that. I try to make
sure there isn't something between us that I've put there that diminishes our time together.

I make sure the things I have to say tomorrow have integrity, that my notes are ready and that I don't try to be something I'm not. That I'm not saying one thing yet feeling another. I mean there is room for
sadness in church at the front. There is room for lament or a sense of loss on any given Sunday, and you need to be ok with that and not try to cover it up or hide it. That just lacks integrity.

No you don't have to tell people all about your week and your feelings of disconnect, you don't have to tell them that. But you don't have to put on a happy smiley face and use your dynamic radio voice to "WELCOME ALL THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS TO THE HOUSE OF GOD WHERE THERE IS JOY ALL THE TIME IN THE LORD" stuff either.

Invariably when I admit my weakness to God and occasionally to a few others who know me, that's enough and it's ok. Sometimes it's just a quieter Sunday, but more often than not when I am so weak, God has
room to do some things in the church gathered and in me that he didn't have room to do before. Many times for me those turn into some of the most profound moments of my life in Christ. As I stand before his kids and tell them things from his letter to them, often his spirit moves within me in amazing ways that deepen the well within me. And I am healed.

And other times its just a quieter Sunday and I preach and meet people and listen to them and pray with them and go home and start again the next day.

I think the key for me is being consistent, honouring the struggle within me without denying that it is going on. Having integrity simply means that I am what I am and today I am thus and so, and that's just how it is. Allowing myself to be honest in those weak moments hopefully allows God to be God. Then he can do what he pleases.

Maybe that's what faithfulness is too. What was it Job said? "Though He slay me yet will I trust Him."

That's a long winded way of saying hang in there, and keep moving towards God. The seasons of drought can make you deeper, truer, and more gracious, when you walk them out with honesty towards yourself
and others, and faith that God has a clue what He's doing, even if I don't.

Night *****
Sleep well.



  1. I've had weeks like that too.
    Thanks for sharing this Randall, a good reminder and encouragement.

  2. Thanks for sharing your friend's letter and your heart - there are times (this week for one), when I wonder what happened to my faith...I seem filled with fear and discouragement over issues at hand....and I tell God all about it, even though I know He already knows. It helps.
    I spend lots of time with Him and His words to us, making sure I'm good with Him...and then I choose to believe Him and His promises, even if I don't 'feel' He's close.
    You've encouraged me in knowing I'm on the right track.
    God has blessed me with others who've come alongside this week...reminding me of His faithfulness, keeping me afloat.

  3. pastor's wifeMarch 9, 2009 at 7:49 AM

    I'm in right
    Out right
    Up right
    Down right
    Happy all the time.
    (Subject to change........)


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