Diary Of A Wimpy Pastor

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,

Nate Roach

Changing Our Community

Keep trying to take the drugs, alcohol, and other substances out of Vernon, but it’s still never going to change.

This is the sentiment I’ve heard from many about the place I call home. The place where I serve as a youth pastor. In the wake of a humongous drug bust, families are reeling, angry, broken-hearted, and confused. I’ve seen some become particularly jaded and cynical to the reality of change in this community.

There are times in youth ministry where I can feel the temptation to fall into the same mindset. Last Spring, I would drive home from youth group every Wednesday night thinking that nothing was ever going to change. It was like banging my head against a brick wall over and over again. I would share the love of God and the good news of His Son, but my students would appear to not really care as they simply waited through the lesson to get to the open gym at the end. Honestly, this perception was inaccurate. I would come to find out this week at camp that our students are listening more than we think. What’s even more simultaneously encouraging and challenging is that they are watching us way more than we think.

Since my wedding day (three weeks ago), I have been giving the greatness and glory of God a ton of thought. Some of this is because of my Bible study I did through the book of Jonah, and partly because of the book Not God Enough by J.D. Greear. I’ve felt the desire to pray daily for a greater glimpse of God’s glory, greatness, and grace. Each day I’ve had him answer this prayer through the stories I hear of His faithfulness, my time in His Word, or other things. I prayed this prayer as we headed off to camp.

My eyes well with tears as I think about what God did this week. He worked in every student that we brought. We had salvations, rededications, calls to ministry, calls to mission, and the building of many relationships. God is not done y’all. I get really discouraged way too often because I look all around me and I feel alone. I feel alone in what I believe the Bible says, and what I believe this life is supposed to be about. But here this week I have a great testimony of God’s faithfulness to look back on.

Here’s the deal you guys.

I can’t change Vernon.

I can teach and preach and plead and beg and disciple and pray and hope all I want, but I can’t change Vernon.

However, God can.

God can change the place I call home.

And he can do it through His church.

The heart-breaking thing for me is that His church isn’t sold on the mission. Instead we chase the world. Instead we get busy. Instead we are unfaithful to our promises.

I asked the family group I had this week to raise their hand if an older believer committed to mentor and disciple them and yet forgot about them within a month of their commitment and blamed getting busy.

Y’all. Every single one of them raised their hands.

Shame on us. Shame on us for making our lives about other things instead of the gospel. No one is too busy to disciple, it is simply a matter of passion and priority.

I was reading the other day about the book of Leviticus. And the book of Leviticus really emphasizes the gulf between us and a holy God. The author of the study I was going through said this about mankind:

“They live selfishly: seeking and hoarding more and more, shutting his or her ears to the needs of the poor, the hungry, the suffering, the lost.”

People say our community can’t change.

I am prone to believe them when I see that I’m living like the quote above.

Well, when’s the last time you shared your faith with a non-believer?

When was the last time you shared what God has done with someone in your circle?

When was the last time you committed to disciple, encourage, and support a younger believer?

When was the last time you opened up your home to share about what God has been doing in your family?

Guys, God can change our community. In fact, God is already changing our community. In fact, God doesn’t need us to help him change our community. But one of the most beautiful aspects of the gospel is that we have been gifted with the opportunity to join God in what he is doing.

Don’t let another year go by with church attendance without gospel commitment.

Share. Disciple. Pray. Give. Invest. Encourage. Support. Worship.

The sentiment of men and women like that at the beginning of this blog post is partly right. We can keep trying to take all of the drugs out of this place and this place simply won’t change. Change isn’t going to come through merely the removal of illegal substances. In actuality that doesn’t do very much.

Instead, change comes through discipleship.

Pick one person this year. I plead with you. That’s it. One person to be faithful to in walking them through their faith.

My students are watching us. My students are watching the generations above them in our community to see if they truly are disciples of Jesus. My students are watching to see if you just sit in the pew or if you get in the game.

I don’t care how old you are, God isn’t done with you yet.

I love you all. Whoever you are reading this, regardless of what town or city or country you live in, God is at work in your community. Join him.

I’ll be honest guys, the temptation to deaden my passion, quiet my voice, and fade into the back is high at times. I’m 24. I’m not all-wise, and I am prone to mistakes. The pressure to shut up and play the game of going through the motions is heavy at times. But I just can’t stop talking about how good and great God is and how we have a high calling to join Him in what He is doing. I know that I can learn to do so with more kindness at times, but I can’t stop. It’s who God has wired me to be.

In conclusion, please hear me out.

I don’t know it all. I’m not perfect. I don’t do discipleship perfectly. I’m not always faithful. That’s why I need men in my life too.

All I do know is Jesus is my Lord and Savior, God is great and good, and He is changing our community, and we can join Him in that work.

I love you all.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach