Danger of Being a Pastor
Dear Friends and Family of Hilton Baptist Church,
There is a danger in being a pastor. I don’t think I am the only pastor to experience this but sometimes it feels as if I am. It is very easy to allow my faith to become something I ‘do’ rather than something that is alive and real in my life. It is not difficult to wear the religious mask and simply go through the motions as being the religious “expert” at Hilton Baptist Church. This tendency to simply play the part is a very real hazard in my job and one that I try to consistently be aware of and fight against.
Therefore, it is important for me to step away from time to time from church responsibilities. It is critical for my own soul to sometimes “turn off” the pastor switch and connect with God not as “Pastor Dan” but rather as simply Dan. If I don’t take time to recharge my own batteries, I will burn myself out and certainly be of no use to our great church.
Since I am aware of this need to step away, not long ago I took some time to myself at the Abbey of the Genesee in Piffard, New York. The Abbey is probably most famous for making “Monks Bread”. However, there really are a group of monks who live, worship, and work together as a community at the Abbey.
I spent most of my time resting, reading and taking some walks. I also attended a few chapel services the monks offered throughout the day. It was good to simply be in a place of quiet away from the noise of the world and in my head.
If I am being honest, I must admit I was disappointed at first. I have taken personal retreats before in various locations and usually something happens that is spiritually significant. I usually leave these retreats with a new sense of focus, inspiration, and refreshment. This time it did not happen. There was no “A-ha” moment, no flash of insight, and truthfully, I never felt that I really connected with God. It was really rather “blah”.
Then I came home and I noticed something. I realized that I missed being quiet. I missed simply being present in the moment without feeling I had to say something. I missed purely listening to discover if God had anything to say to me. Strange as it may sound it was only after I came home that I realized God did speak to me. He simply said, “Dan, we should meet like this more often.”
I share this with you because we are entering a season of expectations. I suspect each of us have expectations as to what the holidays should be like and how they should look and feel. If you are anything like me it can be fairly disappointing if those expectations are not met. I may find myself saying with a sorrowful sigh, “Well.. maybe next year”.
What if we entered the holidays without expectations? What if we are missing out on something new because we are too busy looking and longing for the old? What if God wants to speak to us differently this season or perhaps God wants us to hear differently?
It’s not going to be easy but I’m going to try to listen and hear differently this season. I hope you will, too. Who knows what we will hear? Perhaps a baby crying in the distance from a little town called Bethlehem?
With Peace and Grace,