May 21, 2015

Every Single Sunday (Part 3)

My last 2 posts have addressed the issue of why I don't - and why I believe most pastors & preachers should not - preach every single Sunday. So far I've talked about the need for the people of God to hear from multiple voices and the need for the pastor to sit under someone else's teaching. Today I want to tackle one of the toughest issues I face as a Pastor. It's not the hours of preparation I put into a sermon, or the times of walking through trials and valleys with church members. One of the hardest ongoing struggles I have as a Pastor is remembering that that is not my identity.


As the Lead Pastor of The Brook, there are 3 things I believe God has called me to attend to more than any other:
  • Casting vision for our church
  • Leading our staff (and therefore, our leaders) &
  • Overseeing the teaching & preaching of God's Word
Notice, I didn't say, "Being the only one to preach God's Word". I firmly believe that my chief responsibility is to oversee WHAT we are teaching our people and HOW we are accomplishing it - that we are accurately, compassionately, creatively and boldly proclaiming and communicating the truth of the scriptures. (More on "we" in the next post.) 

Now even though the main point of this whole series is addressing the fact that I do NOT preach every Sunday, I am still overwhelmingly the one who - 80% of the time - delivers the sermon on Sunday. It's not only one of the important things I do, it is a calling on my life: to preach the Word of God & to shepherd and oversee His people. These 2 things are intertwined for me; they cannot be separated. The problem that enters the picture is that as humans we are always inclined to begin believing that we are WHAT WE DO - that WHO we are is overshadowed by or rooted in WHAT we do. Many of us find this highly frustrating, yet we go on fostering this idea all the time. We meet someone and ask them: "So, what do you do?" Standard answers:
  • I'm an engineer
  • I'm a computer software developer
  • Oh, I'm a dentist
The truth is, many people struggle with this. In fact, it can be said that the more someone loves what they DO, the greater the temptation can become to believe that's who they ARE. If that guy in HR hates his job, he's probably going to do everything he can to make sure people know, "This is just a job!" The "professional" baseball player who's never made it out of AAA is probably not as tempted to begin trying to find his worth and identity in baseball than the guy who plays shortstop in the big leagues with a .333 batting average and his face plastered all over SportsCenter. The more we love it &/or the better we are at it the more we face the temptation to think that this is WHO I AM.

Lord, help us see the danger in this delusion.

Why was it so hard for Brett Favre to retire?
Sure, I believe part of it was he felt like he still had some football left in him.
But I think it had more to do with the struggle over identity.

The reality is that there are millions of Brett Favre's everywhere, who've spent so many years of their life (knowingly or not) believing that their identity was found in what they do, that when the clock finally ran out on their talent, their knees, their creativity, their focus - or maybe they just plain flat got old and retired - they really had no idea who they were. Their identity was gone. And when you lose your identity, it's really tough to find it again.

I'm not Brett Favre. Never played Quarterback. Heck, I don't even wear Wranglers.

I'm a pastor. I preach the Word of God. I lead and shepherd people that I love deeply. But I'm also a husband, father, son, brother, friend, coach, neighbor, etc...

WHO I AM is a child of God. But there are days that I struggle with the temptation to believe that my identity is wrapped up in being a pastor. And other people's affirmations (or otherwise) of my performance - someone telling me, "Great sermon, Pastor Brian" - can unintentionally fuel that fire. 

It's no one's fault but my own. 
I have to guard my heart. 
I have to check my motives.
I have to release control.
I have to take a Sunday off.
This helps remind me how crucial it is to distinguish between WHAT I do and WHO I am.

For more encouragement & understanding on this, check out this video:

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