For several years now I have tried to convince myself that I need a pet. I see sweet faces of puppies on TV and get a warm, almost parental feeling. That’s what all “retired” people need, right? Warm slippers, a newspaper, a loving spouse, not much to do, and a faithful pet to help them do it, does that sum it up? I had even convinced myself what type of pet I wanted, a Prince Charles Spaniel puppy. They are beautiful, good natured, smart… and given to a short life because of heart and lung problems, and… frightfully expensive. So I abandoned the idea of a pet. My oldest granddaughter keeps pushing it though.
I also realized, I didn’t want to clean up their messes, especially inside, or take them on mandatory walks once or twice a day. Let’s face it, being a pet owner comes with a big responsibility. His life would be in my hands, and, to a degree he would limit my freedom, which I value.
So, instead of a pet, I turned to flowers and plants. As always I started with a few, then bought more and more. I even put up a white trellis on which to grow more. Then it hit me, plants are a bit like pets. You are responsible for their lives. You have to water, weed and feed, prune, pick and protect them (from fungus, bugs and deer). You spend time with them every day.
Speaking of feeling responsible, pastors feel a deep sense of responsibility for their church members and for lost people. They have to feed them, tend to them, encourage and occasionally rebuke them. They have to comfort and challenge them. As shepherds, pastors fear that their “flocks” or their “sheep” will be led astray by false doctrine, led away by some newer church with more attractive ministries, or led to decay by an attraction to the world. Pastors can agonize in prayer over the physical or spiritual state of a member or of the whole church. They pray, plead, preach and pour out their lives for their people. Pastors feel the weight of responsibility greatly.
A pastor I know was asked by one of his church members why they didn’t have some Mormons, Buddhists, or even atheists come into the church to present their creeds and have “dialogue” (a big buzz word currently) with them. The pastor replied, “I may not be the best shepherd in the world but I am the only one First Baptist Church (Houston, Texas) has and I am not going to invite the wolves in to try to eat up my sheep.” He was exactly right.
Your new pastor will take and feel his responsibilities seriously. He will worry about you, maybe sometimes push you to get some things done, challenge you, and comfort you. Realize that whatever he does is likely because he feels so responsible for you and desires so much to see you grow, prosper and be wise. He wants you to enjoy the pay off Jesus plans and miss the pay back Satan demands.
I am not implying that you are like a puppy or a rose bush. You are more than that. You are people who have done great things and have great potential. Pray for your new pastor. Call him when you need him. But also, give him time for himself and his family. Pastors have worked themselves to death for their people but don’t be one of those members who worries him to it!
You know, putting all this on paper makes me think that maybe I should have bought the puppy. At least he or she would kiss me and be glad when I got home every day. Flowers just sit there. They don’t even have a tail to wag!
In Christ, Pastor Stewart B. Simms, Jr.