Praying for a Christ Awakening: Never Displaced or Misplaced
Have you ever faced a time of transition when you felt totally displaced or perhaps even misplaced? You were certain you had clearly discerned God’s instructions, but once the decision was final and the move made, you began to wonder if He had placed you on the back side of the desert like Moses or even abandoned you completely. Surely, this was not His final destination for you.
After fighting life or death battles in the spiritual trenches of a dynamic pro-life ministry for more than 13 years, I found myself in a ministerial role for a local congregation. Many saw this as a promotion, especially for a woman. Yet, I was grieving the loss of almost daily interaction with unbelievers at their point of need and serving with wonderful Jesus followers from a broad spectrum in the kingdom of God. Surely, pastors were not supposed to feel this way!
One day while nursing my self-pity in the church’s prayer chapel, I cried out to God, “I feel so displaced!” Almost immediately, I heard in my Spirit, “but Kay, I am your dwelling place.” Before the mountains were born or the everlasting God had spoken the world into existence, He had prepared a place by Him where He could hide me in the cleft of the rock and cover me with His hand during this transition and everyday of my life. Suddenly, His evident presence filled the small room, and I no longer felt misplaced and alone.
Thankfully, God loves, chooses, and sets ministers apart for His service not because we are super spiritual or extraordinarily gifted, but out of love and amazing grace, so that we might be a display of His power and glory even in our weaknesses.
According to George Barna, “73 percent of surveyed Americans expect clergy to live up to higher standards of moral and ethical conduct than they expect of self or others.” Even the president of the United States is not expected to live by a pastor’s code of behavior.
In the words of Gary Kinnaman, “It’s almost like they are one step closer to God than the rest of us. So when expectations aren’t met, when they disappoint us, or when they fail, we react. Our heroes become villains. They fall off the pedestal, and we find ourselves despising them. We have great difficulty reconciling their human frailty with our expectations.”
What is “normal” life for a pastor and his family? Expectations are as varied as the churches they serve and as numerable as the number of members in the congregation. Imagine their personal struggles with the added pressures of family responsibilities, church expectations, and the complications of having nowhere and nobody with whom they can feel safe to share. Having close friends can even be challenging.
I love the fact that Scripture is uncensored. We see the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly. We rejoice in fulfilled dreams, struggle with unanswered questions, and get answers we would rather not have heard. Yet, there is benefit in the struggle, the questioning, the failing, and the succeeding—not by a human definition but God’s definition of success. We would do well to remember this and encourage our leaders who constantly face the pressures of life lived in the fishbowl.
Examine your expectations of your pastor. Are there unrealistic things you’ve unwittingly required of them? Have you ever been too demanding of your pastor? Ask God to give you a fresh, godly perspective of their role and renew your faith in His choice for the godly authority He has placed in your church.
Pray specifically for your pastor, and ask God to strengthen their personal walk with Christ and help them shepherd their families first and lead the church well. Follow with a call, email, and/or card of encouragement. Mention a positive aspect of their recent sermon that was especially meaningful to you.
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