It’s helpful for pastors to compile lists of things. Doing so helps clarify doctrine, force contemplation, maintain direction and provide instruction for a succeeding generation. It is highly beneficial to ourselves and others to reflect on and record what we’ve learned (or are learning) along the way. Martin Luther had his list: 95 theses outlined in 1517. Richard Baxter had his list in the form of The Reformed Pastor. Jonathan Edwards had his list: 70 resolutions recorded in 1722-23. So, just make a list of stuff. It will at least help those inheriting your mess understand you better.
One list I have going is my “I Hate That. . .” list. It’s not that impressive; it’s sinfully pessimistic; and hopefully it will be burned on the day I die (or at least buried with me; unless I’m burned in which case just throw it in with me). It’s a list that exposes how I really feel some (okay, many) days as a pastor. Here are some entries for your amusement and pity:
- I hate that I have this list.
- I hate that I cannot meet everyone’s expectations. I really wish I could. Some folks love what other folks hate and vice versa. I just haven’t yet figured out how to “become all things to all people,” yet.
- I hate that I am who I am in several areas right now. I trust God to be changing me into the likeness of Christ. Believe me, I want to change as much as my wife, my church, and my friends want me to. But, that won’t happen overnight. By His grace, I’ll be a different man/pastor next year than this year, next decade than this decade, next life than this one. This demands much prayer and patience.
- I hate that it takes me so long to prepare for one sermon. I wish it took me less time so that I could spend more time with/on folks. But, I’m just not sharp enough to get it all figured out in less time. I haven’t yet preached enough to have a solid foundation of biblical material on my own. My skills need much more sharpening to study much more efficiently. In ten or twenty years, as I’ve exegeted many more passages/books, will I hopefully progressively “streamline” the process.
- I hate that I do not pray enough for my congregation.
- I hate that the church has to suffer for my youth and inexperience. They patiently endure my “pastoral puberty.” They are all sitting the bus, ready to go, while I’m still in the house fumbling around for the keys. I was convinced that very few men were ready to pastor before 30-years-old. There just needs to be some plain old life experience (to summarize Lloyd-Jones). But, that was because I just turned 30! Now, I wonder if it’s 40. There are some (okay, many) things about which I have absolutely no clue.
- I hate that I take everything so personally like a 7th-grade cheerleader (no offense for all those 7th-grade cheerleaders who read this blog).
- I hate that I impose as many unreasonable expectations on others as I think they do with me.
- I hate that there are some things I really don’t want to do, but must do them anyway.
- I hate that you’ve read this far.
Well, that’s just how I feel sometimes. There are many other things on my list that I’ll reserve for another pity party. Perhaps it will grow shorter by then. God be praised that he does not have a list like this. He has an “I love that. . .” list that details all that he’s lovingly accomplished in the Lord Jesus. I love that he stands by his promise to build the church.