The Insufficient Pastor

When I was a kid I thought that my pastor was related to Ronald Reagan.  Or Moses.  Everything about him seemed important.

He had gray hair that was always perfectly groomed.

He always wore a suit and I can’t prove it but I think that he even cut the grass and bathed in a suit.

He was tall and strong.

If you were a casting director and he was an actor, you’d want him to play the president in your movie.

The words he told me over breakfast one morning have always stuck with me.

“I’ve gone a full day without sinning.”

After I grew up a little I learned that his day without sinning was probably more like a day with selective memory lapses.  But when I was a kid that settled it for me.  Forget about being related to Moses.  Maybe my pastor was Moses.

Now that I’m a pastor I think about this man a lot.  Many times I don’t feel like I measure up too well.

My hair is gray so I’m good there but it’s usually out of place.

I hate suits.

If you were a casting director for a movie about the president, I’d be casted as the guy that drives the van for the bad guys.  Russell Crowe would shoot me in the first 2 minutes of the movie.

And I’m nowhere near that going a whole day without sinning thing.

Sometimes I wish that my old pastor could be with me and tell me what to say and how to act.  I’m sure he’d have a better word for the teary-eyed person that stops by to tell me that a loved one is very sick.  He’d probably know the right amount of time to stay for a hospital visit and what to do with the lady that keeps coming by the church asking for money.

Thankfully, there’s a better option for insufficient pastors like myself.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  James 1:5-6 (ESV)

Lately, I’ve started taking that passage seriously.  I start every day by asking God to give me his wisdom.  When my wife asks me for direction about an issue facing our family, I ask God for his wisdom.  When my kids are arguing and I don’t really know the best way to take care of it, I ask for wisdom.  When I’m about to counsel someone who is struggling with something that we never talked about in college or seminary, I ask for wisdom.

And God always gives it to me.

Sometimes it comes immediately, like the time when I was driving aimlessly around the city looking for the hospital where one of my church members was recovering from surgery.  Sometimes it takes a little longer, like when I ask God to help me to better understand how to interpret and preach through the book of Daniel.  But it always comes.  Just like God promised.

Whether we are pastors or not, it is only when we come to grips with our insufficiencies that we begin to really benefit from God’s generous gift of wisdom.  Even the smartest, most forward thinking among us is in need of it.  So even if you happen to be the dignified type that looks presidential and always knows the right thing to say, ask God in faith to generously give you his wisdom today.  You’re going to need it.

Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I’m going to try to go the rest of the day without sinning.


Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.