Recently, I read a blog post from a friend who, along with her husband, has a counseling ministry to pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. She used the illustration of building sandcastles in relation to how hard people, pastors in particular, sometimes work on building something that is temporary when our focus should be on the eternal. She said,
“As ministers, there is an innate desire to help people. The problem is, we can start to build sandcastles with skewed priorities. This often happens because the minister is attempting to fulfill all the expectations, whether disclosed or presumed, reasonable or unreasonable, of congregants, parishioners, and denominational leaders.
“A pastor will never be able to keep all the people happy. To attempt to do so is simply to build a temporary castle that will all too easily be washed away. Unfortunately, the pastor often begins to build another structure in the same spot on the proverbial beach to “reconcile” with those in the church who were disappointed in some way.”1
Pastor, might you be building sandcastles? How much of your time and energy over this past year have been invested in “keeping people happy?”
Your role is a difficult one. You are called by God to shepherd His people, even in the midst of the storm. Over the past eleven months, you have led either a congregation or ministry that has experienced extreme upheaval. Globally, everyone has been impacted by COVID-19. Regionally, many of you have had to navigate the minefields of politics. Some of you have entered your “golden years” and are transitioning out of full-time ministry while God has reassigned others of you to new positions. And still some of you are caught in the middle between factions within your congregation or ministry—organizations that are divided over countless issues. You have become more of a referee than a spiritual leader who rightly divides the word of truth.2
Where do you find hope? Where do you find solace? Where do you go to be renewed and replenished? By putting God first and listening to His voice above all the noise in your life, you will find all these things and more. Jesus teaches us that our enemy’s purpose is to rob, kill, and destroy and the Devil has been doing a pretty good job of that in our lives and in the lives of those we care for and serve. Jesus goes on to say that he, “…came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest.”3 As we put God first and seek to follow his instructions, the Holy Spirit will give us a renewed sense of calling as a pastor, no matter your current assignment or circumstances.
Pastor, what sandcastles do you currently have under construction? Focus on the eternal and not the temporary. Follow the words of Jesus from Matthew 7, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”4 As you build your life, family, relationships, ministry, friendships, and John 17:23 pastoral support groups on Jesus and his teachings, you’ll find yourself firmly on the bedrock that can withstand any storm that comes your way.
I love you and am praying for you.
- “Building Beautiful Sandcastles in the Church”, Dallas Henslee, www.bluefirelegacy.org
- 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV
- John 10:10 CEV
- Matthew 7:24-27 NLT
Leaders at Barnabas Ministries take turns in writing these Pastors4Pastors articles for distribution to pastors connected to Barnabas Ministries. These are challenging times for leaders in the body of Christ. Our desire is to highlight some of the thinking we have coming out of our John 17:23 pastoral support groups and to encourage us to make our groups an even better environment in which the Holy Spirit can guide and fashion us. If you would like to submit an article sometime to encourage and challenge the rest of us contact one of us and we’ll work with you on the possibility.
Rob Woods, Global Group Development Director, Barnabas Ministries, Inc.
©2021 Rob Woods