In case you haven’t noticed, working with people can be disappointing, frustrating, irritating, and maddening. No? You have’t experienced that? Well congratulations, God called you to the one perfect church in America.
Sometimes pastors get pushed to their limit and then, in response, act out in ways harmful to themselves and others. Solitude lengthens ones limit. When silence and solitude are neglected the fuse is shortened.
There is a direct connection between how much patience, joy, and energy we have, and the consistency and meaningfulness of our times alone with God. (I actually wrote a chapter on this in my New York Times bestseller, ‘Mile Wide, In Deep.’
Did you notice those two word: consistency and meaningfulness? Most pastor (I’m not exaggerating) do not have a consistent and meaningful devotional life. Often I hear, “I’m in the Word all the time because of sermon prep.” That doesn’t count. I mean, you will draw some nutrients from the Bible this way but not enough to be the deeply spiritual person you want be and your congregation needs you to be.
“I pray with people all the time.” Good, pastors should pray with and for their people, but still…this does’t count. This is different than what I’m talking about.
In order to lead our people into the depths of relationship with Christ, we must be wading into those waters as well. You will either be up to your neck in Jesus or up to your neck in disappointment, frustration, irritation, and anger.
Having consistent and meaningful times alone with the Lord will not make all your church-people problems go away. Having consistent and meaningful times alone with God will not automatically take away your feelings of disappointment, frustration, irritation and anger…but it will help. It will help considerably. It will lengthen your fuse.
You don’t want to blow up. You don’t want to discover what ‘blowing up’ looks like for you. Maybe you already know. It’s not too late to add some inches, or maybe feet, to that fuse of yours.
Do you have a plan, a spiritual formation plan?
“Well Dave, all this solitude stuff…that’s not how I’m wired.” That maybe true, and maybe using that as an out is why you’re so wired. You don’t have to be an introvert to enjoy solitude. Remember, you’re not locked into your wiring. You can learn new habits.
You begin with a plan until the rhythm of time alone with God becomes so natural you no longer need a plan.
Are you feeling disappointed, frustrated, irritated or angry?
Is your fuse too short?
Do you have a plan to remedy that?
Oh, before you go, I didn’t lie about writing a chapter on this. I did lie about the New York Times bestseller thing. Whew! My conscience feels so much better now.