Your ministry, indeed, your life is not a box. It is not a series of clear and clean and easy organized rubrics by which we can measure success or faithfulness. You were not meant to be holy in front of others and debased behind closed doors–yes, and especially with, other pastors. You do not have the right nor the luxury to be a dis-integrated self who waxes and wanes dependent on the mood and holiness of your company. You will not have the peace offered to you if you insist on speaking out of both sides of your mouth. You cannot expect sweet water to come from a brackish pool. You may be able to exegete a passage with little flaws without the purity of heart necessary to understand the passage. Yet your hearers will not be saved. Indeed, neither may you.
Friend, do not settle for the breadcrumbs of people’s approval for it soon stales and rots and you are left longing for more. You were meant for more than church ministry. Your life was intended to reflect the beauty and worth and magnificence of the all-sufficient and all-satisfying fount of living waters. Do not hew out for yourself a cistern that holds no water and soon putrifies. Instead, find your delight in God not in opinions. Be freed from the wiles of the enemy who would have you spend inordinate hours preparing a sermon while your wife and children and even your First Love is neglected. The message of the prophet is determined by his ethic.
Your ministry is not a light switch to be turned on and turned off. Turned on when you see a parishioner at the store and turned off when you shut the door to drive home with your family. It is not meant to be a box that you organize. Your ministry is meant to be overflow from that box. That raggedy old cardboard box of a life that shows the beauty of our message is not in our packaging but of the interior life.
May the God of grace and love and joy break your light switches and douse your cardboard boxes with the water of his Spirit so that the confidence you have is not in the boxes but in his overwhelming Spirit.
A Concerned Brother