One Of The Things I Like Most About Being A Pastor



My Monday mornings all start out the same.

Gambling on chicken fights in the church basement.

Wait. Did I really just write that? Note to self: Have my staff of ghostwriting interns edit out my reference to chicken fights before publishing this post.

My Monday mornings all start out the same.

Looking at a blank legal pad.

I take notes on legal pads for each week’s sermon. I write down my personal observations. I write out the passage I will be preaching on. I take notes from what others have written. And I pray. I pray lot.

There are some passages of Scripture that are so familiar to church people that they basically preach themselves. And then there’s the book of Esther.

Right now I’m preaching through the book of Esther. Looking at that blank yellow sheet of paper on Monday mornings can be intimidating. How will I preach about Esther, the hero of our story, going into the palace to give sexual pleasure to a perverted, pagan king?

Now you know why I pray so much.

But a funny thing happens during the week that I spend asking God to show me what to say. God reminds me of events from my life that relate to what I’m preaching on. He puts news stories in front of me that remind me that the Bible I’m preaching from is just as relevant today as it was hundreds of years ago when it was written. That yellow legal pad doesn’t stay blank.

One time I heard a skeptic say that they didn’t mind people talking to God but it was when God started talking back that he began to worry.

Being a pastor can be hard. But hard tasks, ones like preaching through Esther, are blessings in disguise because they force me to talk to God. And when I talk to God, he talks back.

He never responds to me with a deep booming voice or a vision. It’s much more subtle. It’s a week’s worth of notes scribbled on a once empty yellow legal pad. It’s a lifetime of memories that remind me that we have a lot more in common with Esther and King Xerxes than we first thought. It’s the Holy Spirit, the same one who inspired the Bible, quietly pointing my attention to Jesus and helping me to grasp what he is saying through the passage.

Prayer is not a one way street. If understood biblically, it is a holy interaction between the Creator and his people. It is our confession that life is too hard on our own. But it is  more than God simply listening to us. In his own way and in his own timing, it is God responding.

He doesn’t respond to me like he does because I’m a pastor. He responds the way he does because I am his. It has nothing to do with my job and everything to do with what Christ has done for me – transferring me from a child of wrath to a child of God (Ephesians 2:1-10).

The path of least resistance is awfully appealing. But it is more dangerous than it appears. With it comes a false sense of self-confidence that makes our inevitable crash and burn even more difficult (Proverbs 3).

But grace is abundant when we find ourselves in a position where our only two options are failure or prayer (2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Psalm 70).

I’m reminded of those options every Monday morning when I look at that blank yellow legal pad.

So I pray.

And God answers back.

That’s one of the things I like most about being a pastor.