It was a bajillion degrees outside in Phoenix, AZ, and I was sitting in the parking lot of Lifeway (my second home) on the phone with my Dad. I was unleashing upon his eardrums a tirade of frustration, complaint, and whining. Life was unfair according to me. I was facing what to me at the time was a mountain of impassable difficulties. And I was letting my Dad know all about it. Yet my Dad’s response was to lovingly listen to me and then tell me to man up and push forward. So I called someone else. I called whoever I could, waiting for someone to give me the green light to give up and give in to my complaints. But man after man spoke strength into my life, rather than give me the license to give up. I limped through the rest of my commitments and then headed back to Texas.
This morning I was reading and came across the following verse.
If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength! – Proverbs 24:10
I’m seeking to memorize that verse this week because it’s a convicting one. If I falter in a time of trouble, my strength is small.
What’s become explicitly clear to me in the last year of ministry in Vernon is that getting out of one difficult situation didn’t make my life perfect. There sure was a honeymoon stage of excitement in the vast unknown of the new adventure, but the trials came, and the difficulties arose. And whenever God calls me out of Vernon, there will be troubles and difficulties at the next place too.
What these experiences and this proverb have taught me is that I’m a wimpy pastor.
Being a wimpy pastor isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
It’s how I respond to the wimp in me that determines if I’m walking in sinful behavior or not.
As a kid, I wanted out of difficult situations. It’s why I tried to quit football my Sophomore year of high school after one week of practice. I knew I was going to get lit up like the Fourth of July day after day and I was no longer interested. Thankfully my parents made me honor my commitment. They were people of their word.
Yet I wanted to run.
That’s a sinful response in my opinion, or at least it’s prone to be. If I’m seeking to run from all my troubles, I will never develop the strength to overcome them.
If I’m a runner and not a fighter, then I will bail from responsibilities, from interceding for my students and family. That’s not what God has called men to, or women to for that matter.
So, I acknowledge I’m wimpy.
To find the strength to overcome, I need to acknowledge something.
I need God’s strength.
You see, God DOES give us more than we can handle.
Look at Scripture!! Again, Biblical illiteracy is an epidemic these days.
Look at Abraham, Moses, Job, the Israelites in Egypt, Paul, Peter, Esther, Joshua, Gideon, David. I wish I had space to unpack every one of these stories, but I don’t. But go back and read these narratives! God gave every single one of these characters more than they could handle. Why? So that they would rely on Him. Why? So that when victory came, it would prove that only God could have brought it, only God could have won the day.
I know that I’m going to face more than my own weak little self can handle. This wimpy pastor can’t face all the evil of our day in my own strength. I must be wholly dependent upon God.
For me, I needed my Dad and others in my life to tell me to keep fighting, to keep going.
I have an adversary. I have an enemy. Satan comes to bring the fight to my doorstep. When things are going well, when God has been blessing my wife and I’s ministry here in Vernon, I know to be on guard against temptation and to buckle up and get ready for trials. I have an enemy, not that I’m scared of, but that I’m aware of.
What’s awesome to me is that the Bible tells us how to overcome him.
And they (the saints who went before us) overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. – Revelation 12:11
I’m a wimpy pastor.
I get nervous and fearful, anxious and worried. Not only do I face my own battles, I’m often acutely aware of the battles of my brothers and sisters in Christ as well.
What’s the antidote to my wimpy nature? The Bible teaches that I’m weak if I give up when trouble comes.
So how do I overcome? How do I push through?
First, I rest in the blood of the Lamb. The battle has already been won. Jesus already accomplished the victory. Satan just doesn’t know when he’s beat.
Second, I speak the words of my testimony over my life. Not some mythical or magical incantation. No, I simply remind myself of all that God has done in my life. The bajillion times that He’s been faithful. The gazillion times that He’s come through for me. When I speak the truth of God’s faithfulness to myself, I’m far less likely to give into despair and timidity.
Lastly, I stop loving my life.
Not that I begin to manufacture depression or discouragement, by no means. Rather, I realize that life on this earth is not the end game. If I give my literal life for the students of Vernon (extremely unlikely), then so be it. Satan can’t really do anything to me if I don’t mind dying for the cause of Christ.
I’m prone to being a wimpy pastor.
But I don’t stay that way.
You may be like me. You may be a wimp at times. If so, I pray that these passages and truths are encouraging to you just as they have been to me. Let’s grow in our courage together. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends! I’m also open to discussion if you would like to comment below. Thanks for reading my ramblings.
In His Name,