Bible Studies Devotional Words Of Encouragement By Fred Parker / last month Share Tweet Pin Share READ: 2 Timothy 4:2-8 The phone rang piercing the silent darkness. In a half-awakened response to this unwelcome intruder I reached for the receiver and with all the concentration I could muster at one thirty-eight in the morning I answered it’s call.“H-e-l-l-o.” I sounded like someone who was still under the influence of some drug. The words that I heard swiftly secured my attention. The person on the other end of the line spoke so enthusiastically and quickly that each word felt like a bullet piercing my psyche. “Brother Parker?” the person inquired. “Yes,” I replied with uncertainty.(I don’t know about you but when my phone rings at this time of the morning, it is not usually to discuss the price of tea in China.) “Well, I figured if I had to be up at this ungodly hour that you should too. You preachers can sleep anytime,” the vibrant voice suggested. (Of course, what they were insinuating is preachers sleep until noon, do not have to work and they all have a-hankerin’ for fried chicken on Sundays.) It was at that instant that my blood pressure rose to an extreme and I began to experience a severe shortness of breath. I was fully awake by this time and thankful that the Lord had not allowed me to be omnipresent because had I been able to reach them at that moment I would have “wrung their neck.” Although this does not happen often it still leaves its mark on the shepherd. In my almost thirty years of pastoral ministry, I have had many situations that challenged my calling, from irate saints who refused to heed the instruction of their shepherd to the burdens of administration and financial pressures. Is it any wonder there are literally thousands of good people who are stepping out of their God called role as spiritual leader, shepherd, or pastor to embrace secular employment. There are several factors involved as we consider why so many pastors are stepping out of their call. I may be speaking for many who have made the decision to walk away from “the call of God.” Like many, I have felt like succumbing to the weariness and frustrations that have squeezed my heart until I could not feel the Spirit directing me any longer. Please allow me to enter your world for just a few moments as I enter the heart of a pastor so that we may realize the passion of the man of God in our lives.There are many reasons for burnout and pastoral fatigue, but I will only engage our thoughts in some of the most prominent ones. First, some are not called of God to fill the anointed position of pastor. It seems that many people have a misperception of the demands that are made on the shepherd. Rather than recognizing the sacrifices involved in being a servant of God many looks at the pastor’s position as a position of prestige. Radio, television, and now internet ministers, have often represented themselves as icons of deity, which have caused some to seek the glamorous rather serving His godliness. Undoubtedly, the person who is called by God to serve as Pastor must know that it is the will of God for his life and be willing to take on the spirit of a servant. I remember so well the night that the Lord called me to serve him. I had only known the Lord Jesus Christ for approximately two years. The rural church I attended had been in several weeks of revival.I had wanted so much to please the Almighty but did not know what he may require of me. I had spent several days and nights in prayer and fasting seeking His direction for my life. We had seen God move in such miraculous ways for several months in our community. People seemed to be coming from every direction. The sounds of fervent prayer and songs of praise filled the hills surrounding our community. We were so moved by the Holy Spirit one night during service that the evangelist began to lead us in a “Victory March” around the outside perimeter of our church. Like Joshua, we silently marched around the church seven times after which the evangelist commanded us to lift our voices and shout unto the Lord. As I began to shout praises to Jesus, I suddenly felt like I had been enveloped in the cocoon of His omnipotence. I remember falling to my knees as I saw Him descending from the clear starlit skies. As I lifted my heart, my hands and my eyes in worship, He spoke to me and said, “Go ye therefore into all the world and preach the gospel.” I remember shouting, “Lord, if you will go with me…if you will help me.” He then said, “Go!” and then slowly ascended until He was gone from my sight. Although I felt the call of God at that time, I would not realize for some four or five years that the Lord wanted me to be a shepherd…a pastor. It has been some thirty-six years since that night but it is as fresh in my mind as it was then. During the times that I feel like giving up and “throwing in the towel” all I have to do is take a short trip to my knees and He reminds me of that night in southern Arkansas when He called me out. I firmly believe that the individual God has called will have no question about whether the Lord has anointed him to preach. Some have left their calling because of the fierce scrutiny of the world and fiery judgment of their peers. I have often wondered if the Apostle Paul felt the same things that many ministers have.Somehow I believe he did. When he said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” ( 2 Timothy 4:7KJV)I believe he knew the pain of rejection from his peers…his family…his church…his community. Listen to what he suffered as a minister of God.Feel the pain of the scourger’s whip. Smell the soggy soured air of a damp dungeon cramped with criminals. Imagine how he must have felt in the depths of the ocean as the salty sea burned his sun-parched lips. Sense his frustration as his peers mock and jeer. Hear the angry mobs and the stones of resentment hitting the pavement as they leave him for dead. Can you hear the distant whispers of the backbiters and the cutting tongues of false accusers? If only we could feel his burden for the churches…sense his passion for the truth of God…hear his intercessory prayers he offered for the fools that flogged him. (Read 2 Corinthians 11)There is no greater example of a pastor than the Apostle Paul. Like the “John Wayne” of Christianity, he stands tall because he fought without regard to his own will. I wonder how many times ministers of the gospel have faced these same challenges and finally succumbed to the consistent criticism and fierce pain ultimately walking away from their call defeated. Is it possible for you to sense the pulse of the heart of the shepherd…the passion of the pastor…the gut-wrenching warnings of the watchman on the wall? Have you ever heard him calling your name in prayer and wished he would just move on to someone else? Unlike the hireling, the heart of the true shepherd is selfless and must not be deterred by the demons of hell. Why are so many pastors withdrawn and inhibited when it comes to expressing their true frustrations with the call? What causes so many of them to internalize their frustrations and failures? How may a pastor overcome the consuming flames of burnout? When will he/she realize the calling is from the throne of God and nowhere else? Where does the call end? Friend’s…fellow pastors…soldiers of the Word and protectors of the sheep, our objective must be complete obedience to the will of God. We must not compromise our calling in any way.We must continually lead and feed while trusting the Lord Jesus Christ to shepherd us. If we do this, our shepherd will do as we have done. He will lead us to green pastures. When we are thirsty and dry, He will direct our lives to the clear still waters. Our great shepherd—Jesus Christ—will restore our soul. He will feed us from his banquet table and allow us to triumph over our enemies. (Read Psalm 23) But most importantly, His anointing will be with us and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Praise God! Wow! I’m feeling better already! I think I’ll go check on my flock with a new burden and zeal.Will you join me?