My Dear Church,
I have a great desire that you would look upon my life and see it, not as hidden, but as transparent.
Through this letter it is my hope that you may understand both the great joy and the great challenges I find in leading you on a regular basis.
Learning to express myself in this role is not always as simple as I’d like, but communicating well with you is a weekly pursuit and great priority of mine. Still, if I had to speak plainly, it would sound something like this:
As a pastor, I have committed my life to live in service to God and His people. It is a uniquely-natured position, where both calling and profession weave seamlessly into one. And while I do serve and am called, I also endure many things which grate upon my soul.
I’ve weathered many friendships over the years, some genuine, others not so much. I don’t always mean to, but sometimes I question what intentions you may have. Are your intentions to befriend me true, or like some, are you just looking to gain a position of influence in the church?
Often, I have overheard others talking about the problems seen in the local church.
Imagine for a moment that your family were something like this, always talking about you, but never speaking with you to help the matter. I find myself wondering why those who stand up and gripe about their dislikes can’t somehow also be the ones who take responsibility for what needs to be fixed. What makes more sense, complaining about the problem or investing yourself to help find a solution? Despite the context, gossip is sin. Please, stop.
How much stronger could we be if we stopped burning bridges, and chose instead, to use that effort to build avenues to those hurting and in need of help?
I know some of your concerns are legitimate. Life is not always an easy road to travel. Even for me, words which preach so well can, at times, be much harder to live by.
Many of you have sought council, and I’m glad that we could speak. I want you to grow and mature in your walk with Christ. But some of you are lazy and passive. You have heard God’s Word and bare all of the revelation, but none of the response to it. Your fault lies not in your hearing, but in your doing. I wish you could see that your willingness or unwillingness to apply the transformative power of God’s word is largely why you are where you are, today.
Even in the most elementary of terms, applying what we learn is what brings about transformation in our lives.
Our Lord bids that we obey His commands. Still, some of you only make further demands with no intent of changing or being changed by His love. I cannot call you re-born, only religious. The Pharisees from the times of Jesus were no different.
Religion cannot change who we are. Like playing “dress up,” it is a poor man's way of making ourselves look better. The only thing that can change us is the true gospel, and unlike human effort, God’s love works from the inside-out, not the outside-in.
Church, you cannot solve or save yourself.
There are days where I wish that I could fix you, but even at my best, I’m not always the one who can solve your problems. I can help, but like you, I’m limited by my humanity. In these times of great need, I have learned to lean heavily upon His grace. I would ask that you do the same.
Church, I love you and as much I would like to save you, I can’t.
You have a savior. I’m not Him.
The Truth has not changed and its results are no less potent. We must be more about what God has commanded, to seek the Lord while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6).
If daily, you would commit yourself to prayer and devotion, then you might even find my counsel unnecessary. Time spent regularly in prayer and scripture could solve a wealth of the problems you keep facing.
I’m sure on many occasions you have seen me standing in the pulpit. But what bears so heavily upon my heart are the moments you haven’t seen. I mean the moments behind closed doors where my heart was broken on your behalf.
How many long nights have I spent on my face praying and weeping for you when I didn’t even know your name? But God, in His infinite wisdom and providence, knew you and He knew you would need guidance in human form. That’s why I’m still in this. I don’t do this because I need the acclaim or the pats on the back. I do this because the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29).
He has asked that I lay down my life for His people and live sacrificially as He did. It’s sobering to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, but He is worthy of far greater glory.
He has called me; a broken vessel, to reach broken vessels. I am not above the standards our Lord has set, rather the first to be subject to them. He has declared that those who become teachers shall receive a stricter judgment (James 3:1). For this reason church, I ask that you would pray for me. As often as you remember this request, please pray for me. Like you, I have seen many others fall away and I do not wish for the same.
You have the markings of a beautiful bride upon you, church.
It has been my pleasure to watch many of you grow into maturing, thriving sons and daughters of God. The purity you are learning to walk in speaks of a power and passion that lives beyond the grave.
Death could not hold our King. His name is great and His return is certain. But there is work to be done.
There are countless others, who once, like us, will never know the joy of salvation and forgiveness unless we tell them. We can only change the world one person at a time, so I’m asking you to rally.
Would you join me in continuing to do what can only be done this side of heaven?
I trust you would.
We’re all in this together.
Humbly and Sincerely,
Your Local Pastor