Every day, I think at least briefly about serving as a senior pastor again. If I think hard enough, I also remember things that I didn't enjoy about the work of a pastor; however, I much more remember blessings of the work—blessings I wish I had appreciated more years ago. I list these things here in hopes of helping some hurting pastors count their blessings today with me.
- Preaching to the same people every week. Even when they're not always on board, it's a great privilege to teach the same people the Word of God over the course of years. You get to watch them learn to trust you, love the Lord and follow the message you proclaim.
- Baptizing people. I remember my first baptism of my best friend, the child who dove into the pool, the older lady who chose to overcome her deep fear of water, the adult son whose mother hollered in joy as I lowered her son into the water and so many others. Few others have this joy.
- Serving the Lord's Supper. There's a sweetness and a holiness to that moment that's hard to describe. You get to take people back to the cross, lead them to examine themselves, and look forward to Christ's return—all the while doing it via the ordinance the Lord gave us. Standing before God's people also requires you to examine your own life first.
- Marrying believers. I must confess that I sometimes complained about this task (for example, it required a lot of time, you never knew what might happen, it was likely recorded if you messed up something and so on), but pastors uniquely get this privilege. Church members invite you to share this significant moment with them.
- Being "Pastor Chuck" to the kids and teens. Some of them had difficult home lives, but I hope they knew every Sunday that someone loved them. I love my students at Southeastern Seminary, but "Pastor Chuck" from the lips of a little one means more to me than "Dr. Lawless" any day.
- Seeing the gospel transform lives. This is what it's all about—seeing the gospel change lost sinners into Christ-obeying believers. You see arrogant people become humble, adulterers become faithful, addicts become sober and rebels become Christ-followers. When you're with a church long enough, you get to see this happen over more than one generation.
- Officiating funerals. These were at times painful moments, but I pray I helped families rejoice over the lives of their believing loved ones. I know it was my joy to remind them that the Christian faith answers the questions of eternity and offers hope even in death. As pastor, I got to lead in their celebrations of life.
Pastors, my prayer is that you will enjoy your work more today. Thank you for your service to God's church!
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
This article originally appeared at chucklawless.com.
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