A Letter To Remind Me

To the leadership of SIWC:

Thank you for your willingness to serve and to serve well in caring for the people of SIWC. The time of your serving is unprecedented. Unless you were born in the early 1900s and faced the various crisis that a person of that era had met, there has never been a time quite like this for the vast majority of people living today.

I believe a little perspective may help concerning the season we live in versus another period.

I read this recently about those that were born in 1900. At the age of 14, World War I would begin and would end when they were 18 years of age, and roughly 22 million would be deceased in the four years.

Shortly after World War I, a global pandemic would cover the earth in 1918 called the “Spanish Flu” that would kill nearly fifty million people. You are now 20 years old.

Nine years later, the Stock Market would crash! A global economic crisis abounds; the great depression commences.

Just four years removed from the most significant economic collapse, you are 33 years old and the Nazi’s rise to power in Germany. Six years later, six million Jews were exterminated, and over sixty million would die in those six years. You are now 39 years old.

Finally, a brief respite from war, plague, and financial ruin! At least until you are 52, then the Korean war begins. Twelve years later, the Vietnam war begins and lasts until you’re the age of 75.

Think about the people who lived, or maybe you lived through most of this! Consider the nation that was built, churches that were built, and the revival that was had despite the News, Finances, and War that was happening all around.

From my perspective, the main reason we see the rise in despair, depression, divorce, distraction, and dismay; is that we have focused the church (people) on the atmosphere of the church versus their relationship with Jesus. The church is the new drug; if I can’t get to church, I can’t “stay” saved, holy, married, or committed to Christ.

This issue is not only true of the pew. It’s also true of the pulpit! I recently read the statistics concerning ministry related to the “fall out” of this pandemic!

80% of full-time ministers are currently looking to leave the ministry.

94% of their spouses say the ministry is personally damaging.

In 2020 1500 ministers left the ministry each month in the USA.

If that bears out in our churches, that will be a devastating result, further hampering our nation’s spiritual awakening and health.

A religious denomination leader listed out his seven reasons why Pastors, Church Leaders, and people in ministry are leaving. Here they are!

1. The pandemic.

2. Discouragement.

3. Empty buildings.

4. Finances.

5. They are punching bags.

6. They sense persecution coming.

7. Workload increased.

Personally, I have faced all of those issues. I understand the emotions and do not fault those that cannot stay in ministry. However, the pandemic will pass, discouragement is overcome by encouragement, empty buildings will not remain empty, finances (that’s a whole other blog). While I may be a punching bag for some, that comes with the territory. Indeed, there is persecution; Jesus said there would be! Workload has increased; it is the “work” of the ministry! I could go through each of those and take opposing views on them.

The pandemic is more about perspective than the crushing crucible that some are making it out to be.

Perspective is being driven by the media, social media, and thoughts that are not aligned biblically. There is so much discouragement because we don’t have enough encouragers. People pass on what they possess. If they are steeped in negativity, they will not pass positivity on. If they have despair, they will not sow in faith. Finances, there are so few who truly trust God in this arena. From that, punches are thrown (verbally) out of fear, frustration, and financial hardship. The pandemic has increased the workload of all of us, collectively.

It’s all connected to a lack of genuine relationship with Jesus and proper biblical views! This crescendo of shallow Christianity has resulted in an overflow of burden upon those carrying the load.

Our view has to be biblical. It is appropriate biblically speaking to assist in carrying loads of others. However, a little diagnostic work will help us decipher which loads we need to assist in carrying.

Let’s look at the letter written to the church! Paul wrote it to the church at Galatia, and it is the conclusion of the letter that I call attention to today!

Galatians 6:1-10

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespassyou who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load.

6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to allespecially to those who are of the household of faith.

Let’s break this down. 

Paul says, “If you’re spiritual, when someone fails, when they are overcome in any trespass don’t rejoice—restore.”

Noah lay in his tent, naked. Ham couldn’t wait to share this news with his brothers. On the other hand, Shem and Japheth walked backward into their father’s tent, a blanket stretched between them, to cover his nakedness (Genesis 9:21–23).

Scripture declares that love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Love doesn’t talk about sin, doesn’t draw attention to sin, doesn’t throw it out on social media, and doesn’t call a prayer meeting to discuss sin. Love walks in backward and covers sin.

He further states that we should consider ourselves. The question then is how much of our day is analyzing others versus taking a personal inventory of ourselves? That is indicative of your spiritual barometer. The carnal man wants to reveal. The spiritual man wants to restore!

Then Paul states that we are to bear one another’s burdens in so doing, we fulfill the Law of Christ. What is the law of Christ? To love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36–40).

Then there is the deceiving thought that we could be too important to carry another’s burden. Paul said, be careful that you do not think too highly of yourselves. Paul would go on to say in so many words in verse four. Don’t try to impress others with your importance. Just do the things God has called you to do regardless of whether anyone notices or appreciates you. We are working as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23)!

Then in what would seem a contradiction of verse 2, Paul says in verse 5 that every man should carry his own burden. “Wait a minute,” you say. Didn’t Paul say that we should carry another’s burden and fulfill the law of Christ? Yes, Paul said both. The Word translated “burden” in verse 5 speaks of a soldier’s pack, while the word “burden” in verse 2 refers to taking a hit in the chest. You see, in this battle, we’re in, we’re each supposed to bear our own pack. But when someone has been attacked and sideswiped by the Enemy, we’re supposed to carry his load with him.

Consequently, we should not be people who are always trying to get someone else to carry our pack. At the same time, there are moments, events, and days that overcome us. During those times, we need brothers and sisters to stand with us.

We should pray to God that He gives us wisdom concerning when people need to bear their burden and when the burden is to be shared. 

Much of what we deal with as leaders, pastors, and care ministry is self-inflicted injuries due to not carrying our pack. There are certainly times when the flood of the enemy overcomes us, and we are all capable of being susceptible to it. 

The pack for a Christian is quite beneficial. It includes a shield, helmet, belt, shoes, sword, and a breastplate. However, if a believer will not carry his pack, he’s going to get crushed. Then the workload is increasing on those of us that are carrying our pack, their pack, and everyone’s pack! We also then have to carry them because they have been crushed and wounded. We are carrying our burdens, their burdens, and the yoke is no longer easy, and the burden is no longer light. 

Ministry burnout occurs when you are worn out from carrying the burdens of those that have fizzled out. They have dropped the pack, and you feel the urge to carry it. You can do so, but only for so long. Check the baggage that you are carrying from those that are under your care. It could be that spiritual exhaustion is happening because you are carrying, belts, helmets, shields, and breastplates for those that have willingly laid them down. You, you are now a prime target for an attack because you are pre-occupied with their pack and not your own. 

I learned a valuable lesson a long time ago in ministry (counseling)! A lovely couple to Melissa and I, were going through a terrible marital issue. I would go in and counsel very early in the morning. Days upon days turned into weeks, and ultimately it got nastier and nastier. Each day early on, I could leave it at the office. That was where the counseling was occurring. However, after some time, that nastiness of their marriage was seeping into my marriage. I was bringing it home. I heard so much negativity that I couldn’t be optimistic about anything. One-night, Melissa called me out on it. The next day, I changed the way I did ministry. To this day, I do not “counsel” from my office. We established the green room as a place to deal with negativity and counseling. My office then is a place for me to decompress and decipher what I need to carry and what I need to lay down. 

Up until the pandemic began, we refused to bring “ministry” issues into our home. Our home was a refuge and oasis of peace. The pandemic, though, has caused us to do more ministry at home than ever before. We’ve now adopted new strategies; we work to contain the “work” negative ministry into individual rooms in our house! That way, we can lay down the burdens we were forced to carry so that another’s burden doesn’t become an attack on my pack! I encourage you to adopt similar thoughts when caring for the flock. 

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