John 10:4 – When [the shepherd] has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. (NIV)
Like most pastors, I'm often jokingly told that our jobs are easy because we work only one day a week. Usually, I laugh along with the person, who thinks that this is exceedingly funny, but within my heart, I'm actually weeping for myself and other pastors. What most folks never realize is that we're always working, always praying, always thinking about the church and the people, even when we're supposed to be resting, vacationing, or having a day off. If people really want to tell the joke as pastors truly experience it, it should be told this way: Pastors are God's biggest fools — they don't even get time off for good behaviour.
Ministry is the one occupation on earth that has one unique and important part of its function: eternal consequences. The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker deal only with the here and now. Teachers, counsellors, and therapists deal with life issues and personal choices. Business people, political leaders, and CEOs work with expanding their markets and lifetime events. Only ministry deals with the eternal side of things; only ministry outlasts them all.
My main role, like that of many pastors, is to guide folks toward Christ, so that in the midst of all of society's noise, they can still hear His voice calling them. It's not a popular responsibility, which is why fewer folks are becoming pastors these days. It's not something that can be equated with anything else, either, because none of the other wonderful professions, vocations, or careers involve eternity.
Perhaps next time, when you're with a pastor and feel the urge to tell the old one-day-a-week joke, set it aside; instead, let them know how much you are blessed by that one day in the week, when the pastor tries to help you to get closer to Christ, so that one glorious day, you can experience the joy, peace, and love that is everlasting.
Questions for personal reflection: How often do I think about the eternal side of my life? Am I willing to let my pastor help me to seriously contemplate eternity?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to listen for Your voice, so that we may positively respond to Your calling. Enable us to embrace Your words, so that we can actually attach ourselves to Your way, truth, and life. Bless all who seek to lead us to You. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Forth In Thy Name" (Lyrics)