We’re in the “winning” business. Not only are we more than conquerors (Rom. 8:37), but, as you well know, the battle has already been won. Jesus’ death, burial and especially resurrection sealed the deal. Christ defeated the enemy (like there was any doubt). Although there may be, sorry - I should say WILL BE - trouble in this life, we win in the end. And we are helping our people win as well. What a privilege it is to be part of seeing people grow and mature in the Lord. There are few feelings that match this . . . leading someone to Jesus does and surpasses it, for sure.
That being said, dealing with such a variety of people, there are many defeats and losses along the way. And we suffer through each one of them.
Sometimes, it is like what you’ve experienced recently, losing in the counseling room or, in regard to one partner, before you could get them into counseling. Other times it is people who have been offended. Maybe they just don’t seem to understand, there’s miscommunication, or they are listening to the wrong people, the wrong god! Unfortunately, they often leave the church. Tragically, some leave the faith.
There are a lot of words that could be used to express the feelings that a pastor has when this happens - most of which are not suitable for print. Becoming angry is natural. Yelling at the person - telling them off - feels appropriate. Taking their arms and shaking them seems like it might help. Punching them in the mouth or gut might cross your mind as well. All of these are natural responses from a natural man. However, we are not only professionals, and shepherds, but we’re followers of the King. We cannot express ourselves in any of these hostile ways. Nor should we become totally passive and completely cut them off and not speak to them again.
We have to learn how to demonstrate our anger so that it will remain righteous indignation (be angry and sin not - Eph. 4:26) and not move into the sin area.
I’ve found that speaking with other colleagues who understand what you are going through is very helpful. Praying about your feelings and response is a must. Sometimes talking with the Elders is not only appropriate but will allow for wisdom to flourish (if anyone lacks wisdom . . . James 1:5). But in all things, we need to be patient and loving in our response. The term “meekness” comes to mind as well. It was a hallmark of our Lord.
So, suck it up. Keep pouring your life into with the ones God gives you. And rejoice in the many victories you will see. These will overwhelmingly outweigh what appears to be defeats.
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