There are many false ideas, spiritual urban legends, floating around our churches today. Unfortunately, we often swallow these lies hook, line, and sinker, and then get frustrated with God for failing to keep promises He never made! Thinking of these lies Christians swallow, let’s examine this one: Does God really have a “blueprint” for our lives?
So many of us spend hours and hours playing strategy games, where we have to think several moves ahead, and yet when it comes to real life, we simply live in the moment and fail to plan for the future. It’s wise to think about tomorrow today. That’s one thing Solomon teaches in Proverbs 27:23-27. We should think about the future, and intentionally change our actions today in light of that.
Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on 1/21/2018.
Most pastors and church leaders will tell you that Easter is one of their favorite Sundays of the year. I often refer to Easter as the “Super Bowl” of Christian worship. Most churches pull out all stops with their Easter services–special music, a special message, special programming, maybe even a different venue. Many churches add an additional service, and Easter is usually one of the highest-attended worship services in a year. The atmosphere is one of excitement and anticipation, and for good reason. What could be a greater cause for celebration than the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
You might think that a large attendance, a big production, a chance to passionately share the gospel, and an opportunity to rejoice because Jesus is alive would mean that pastors go home from Easter Sunday on cloud nine. It may come as a surprise to learn that many, many pastors contemplate quitting the ministry the day after Easter. The “post-Easter blues” aren’t logical, but they are real. We lie awake Easter night wondering if all the work, the expense, and the production was worth it. We are keenly aware of every little misspoken word, missed cue or other minor mistake. We will have a list a mile long of ways it could’ve been better before the Easter ham has been eaten off our dinner plate. While our kids are hunting for Easter eggs on Sunday afternoon, our minds are divided–still half-focused on the service, and wondering if any of the decisions to follow Jesus that were made were genuine. We may be irritable and snap at friends and family members–only a few hours after exalting the risen Christ in worship! And on Monday, the day after Easter, many pastors will seriously consider resigning from their pastorate to pursue a career in the “real world.”
I’m not writing this so you’ll feel sorry for pastors. My purpose is to ask you to encourage your pastor this week. He/she could use a kind word and a compliment. Trust me, your pastor will hear plenty of criticism about the service–the music was too loud, we didn’t sing my favorite hymn, the sermon was too long, the coffee was too weak, we didn’t advertise enough, we shouldn’t embarrass people by asking them to raise their hands to accept Jesus… you name it, people will criticize it. That’s why it’s important for you to break the mold and say an encouraging word to your pastor this week. Here are just a few suggestions:
Write a thank you card. You’d be surprised at how effective a simple handwritten note can be. Knowing that you took the time to grab a card, physically write a message, and drop it off at the church office is like a ray of sunshine in the dark night of the soul. A hand-written note is not an afterthought, and that makes it meaningful.
Send a text, email or Facebook message. A lot of what we get via email and Facebook is negative. A positive message will stand out like the first blossom of Spring after a long Winter.
Post on Facebook or Twitter about how much you enjoyed the service–and give the credit to God. Pastors are encouraged when we hear how God moved someone in a service, and especially when we see our members glorifying God in it. Plus, your post is also an encouragement to all the volunteers who worked to create the service. And, it advertises to your non-church-going friends that you had a great experience in worship today, and they may be inclined to ask you about it.
Make a brief phone call. Be specific about what you thought went well in the service. It doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t need to be over the top or flowery. It can be short and simple and, most importantly, genuine.
Some of you may know how many hours your pastor put into planning and studying and organizing the Easter service. It’s likely that he/she worked many late nights meeting with volunteer leaders and making sure the details were taken care of… and then woke up before the sun to pray and study Scripture. Your pastor’s family also felt the strain of Easter Sunday with a spouse/parent who was suddenly a lot busier and didn’t have as much time to help around the house.
In love, your pastor sacrificed a lot to bring about a great Easter Sunday worship service. And, for whatever silly reason, your pastor may be struggling with the post-Easter blues, and may even be considering resigning. So, I am asking you to throw a little love your pastor’s way this week, and let God use to you encourage one of His weary servants. Thanks!
Photo courtesy of www.freejazzlessons.com.
When I was interviewing for jobs I hated the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I squirmed because I didn’t see myself anywhere in five years! I didn’t have a five-year plan, or even a two-year plan! In my defense, I was fresh out of college and didn’t really know what “real life” was even like.
Now that I’m a little more experienced (stress the word little), I see the value of the question. Do you have a vision for your life? If you’re married, do you have a vision for your marriage? If you have kids, do you have a vision for your kids? If you’re a leader, do you have a vision for your organization/job/church? If the answer is no, why not?
How can you move forward if you don’t know what forward is? How can you make progress toward a goal if you don’t know what that goal is? I speak from experience when I say that living without a vision is exhausting. Every problem seems like a major problem. Life throws you curveballs, but you have no direction. You don’t know if you can slow your pace or if you need to pick it up, because you can’t tell how close you are to achieving whatever it is you’re striving for. In a sense, life without vision is like a rat on a wheel. You can run, but you never really know where you’re going.
In my world, vision is critical. Working for a church, the temptation is to focus seven days at a time. It’s so easy to get so focused on this Sunday and this week’s emergencies that you don’t even think about next week, next month, or next year, much less a five-year plan.
Vision is key to success. If you have vision, you know that in five years you’d like to finish your Master’s degree. That means you need to pick up your course load now. In five years, you’d like to be the head of your department. That means you need to work hard and maybe go back to school now. You know that in five years your kids will be old enough to understand the gospel. That means you need to model Christ and talk to them about Jesus now.
So where do you see yourself in five years?