Here’s a really simple statement: You cannot give what you do not have. Even if I really want to give my friend the $20 he is asking for, I can’t give it to him if my wallet is empty. And yet pastors are guilty of trying to do this spiritually frequently.
Somehow we’ve forgotten that Peter denied Jesus, that Paul persecuted Christians and called himself the chief of sinners, that James at one time thought Jesus was out of His mind. We hold these men up as “saints” and “perfect” pastors. But all of these men knew that they were were in desperate need of The Physician who could restore them and fill them for service.
Pastor, do you feel the need to look “perfect” to your congregation? Are you leery of ever mentioning any of your shortcomings? Do you think you have to have what everyone else needs? Do you think you have to answer every call?
Read carefully these words from A.W. Tozer—
“Human nature being what it is, the man of God may soon adopt an air of constant piety and try to appear what the public thinks he is. The fixed smile and hollow tones of the professional cleric are too well known to require further mention. All this show of godliness, by the squeeze of circumstances and through no fault of the man himself, may become a front behind which the man hides, a plaintive, secretly discouraged and lonely soul. Here is no hypocrisy, no intentional double living, no actual desire to deceive. The man has been mastered by the circumstances. He has been made the keeper of other people’s vineyards but his own vineyard has not been kept. So many demands have been made upon him that they have long ago exhausted his supply. He has been compelled to minister to others while he himself is in desperate need of a physician.” (emphasis added)
My dear pastor, please drop the pretense: you are not super-human.
- It’s okay to say “no” to another request so you can spend time at home.
- It’s important to make the time to “keep your own vineyard”—read the Bible for you (not for sermon prep), spend time with your spouse and children, get a good night’s rest, take a vacation.
- You need to find a friend who can hold you accountable, and listen to your struggles, and pray for you.
- You must take all the time you need to get filled up with God’s presence, to meet with The Physician of your soul.
Remember: you cannot give what you do not have. So make sure you’ve got it before you try to give it!