I am drawn to this vital topic like a bug to a floodlight.
It speaks intimately to my heart.
This topic hits me directly, and at times I am found wanting and in need of some fixing.
Our First Flock.
As a pastor and officer of The Salvation Army there is a lot that goes on in our ministries.
We are busy people and everyone is in need of our time, advice, and shepherding.
Sometimes it can take a toll on your life if you do not take time to replenish and rest.
I am not saying disconnect yourself from the flock, but find intentional times when you can simply get away and rest. Pastoring is not easy. It has its blessings and is certainly fulfilling when lives are touched and transformed…but the pastor’s life is also like having a big red target painted on you as well. If something should happen to go wrong in the church – blame the pastor…if sin is confronted (appropriately and biblically with grace) and some people choose to leave the church because of it – it’s the pastor’s fault that numbers are now down on Sundays. There are times when the flock will take out its pain and distress on the pastor.
Be aware that despite perceived successes and failures in ministries that you have been called not by the deacon or by a supervisor or by a divisional/territorial leader – but firstly and most importantly – you have been called by God. Be faithful to that calling above everything else.
With that clearly said, let me poke at a sensitive topic in my life and I’m sure yours as well.
Your Immediate Family – Is Your First Flock!
Yesterday, I took my boys out to camp.
We are in the process of moving and currently our time is predominately occupied with boxes, transportation logistics, writing farewell briefs…in other words our house has currently been turned upside down. Honestly, I haven’t been thinking much about what my boys might be going through in all of this. I have been so consumed with packing and cleaning and preparing that my children have sort of been forgotten.
Anyway back to camping.
We left the house, got into the van and pulled out of town as we headed out to our divisional Salvation Army camp. (It’s about an hour and a half from our house) That night on the way (I had already packed our fishing poles) I bought some worms and as soon as we arrived at camp we headed straight for the lake. The sun was just setting as a few fire blazed clouds floated through the sky…it was a perfect evening. As I sat there on the dock, by the lake, some of the stresses and concerns just seemed to melt away. I looked over at my boys as they disturbed the tranquil waters with lines baited with worms and neon bobbers, and my heart just swelled with a feeling a love for them. Momentarily, in the midst of all of our pastorly duties, responsibilities, frustrations AND PACKING, we had begun to starve our first flock – our kids. I had been guilty of neglecting their feelings, their concerns, even their spiritual well being. Sitting there on that dock fishing and talking with them about life and what was happening in school, I reconnected with my first flock. I reconnected with my heart again…not that I don’t minister as an Officer with my heart, but when there is a disjunctive note at home, the heart can not fully be in tune. That moment fishing with my boys is something that I will always cherish…and I don’t want to miss out on any other moments that I have with them. I don’t want to starve my first flock anymore.
Before you became a pastor and was given the responsibility of tending the church flock, you had a family as well (at least most of you do, I would imagine). If you are raising children and have a spouse – you cannot neglect this first flock!
Some might argue that we shouldn’t differentiate between the flock at church and the flock at home, but I disagree. After all, for the most part, the flock at church doesn’t live in your house. They are not as intimately acquainted with you as your family is. These important people in your life need to know that they matter to you! If you hole up in your office for 60 hours a week and they hardly ever see you, perhaps it’s time to reorganize your priorities. Perhaps it’s time to get your heart back in tune again. Your first flock needs you! It’s not an ego trip to say that they need you…you aren’t superman or superwoman, but your kids deserve to have a Mom and a Dad who are physically there for them. They deserve to know you care for them, that you take time for them, that you want to be there when they achieve certain milestones in life.
Don’t starve your first flock!
You only have about eighteen years to feed this first flock the appropriate spiritual and physical nourishment that they will need to live godly lives. Don’t neglect this time! Don’t regret not doing enough. Don’t count solely of Sunday School teachers and other mentors to do your job. These instrumental people are a support to the family, but they are not the parents that your children need. Don’t starve your first flock!
Something more to ponder today!
To God be the glory!