24 November, 2012

Shuffling the Deck

Last week when I was in the hospital, my cardiologist and I had a pretty straight forward talk after my stress test. He told me that I absolutely had to cut the stress in my life if I did not want to die young. In typical fashion, I told him that it was pretty hard to do with what I do for a living. He said something that I've been mulling over now for a week. He said that there are givers and takers in this life, and that most ministers he knew who suffered from too much stress were allowing the takers to dominate their lives. He said that he could pretty well guarantee that I spent most of my time and energy on people who seldom or never came to church and did not contribute financially or any other way to the church. I thought about it for a few seconds and told him that he was right. Then he said something that struck a nerve. He said, "Pastor, if you've been involved in their lives for more than six months and they are not coming to your church or making changes in their life by now, they are most likely not going to. They are using you to make them feel better about their lives, but they are takers. They do not care about your well being, your families well being or about your church. They just want you to make them feel good about themselves, and they are sucking the life out of you."  He said that from what he saw, in his patients, these are the preacher killers and it was time to take care of myself and that meant ridding myself of the takers in my life. 

Those words have run through mind hundreds of times this past week. I've done a lot of soul searching and praying and I've come to realize that Doc P is right. The folks that consume the vast majority of my time and energy and contribute the most stress in my life give little to nothing back. They really don't care about me, other than to the extent that I'm there the next time they are in crisis. They don't care if my family sacrifices time or finances, they just want me there at their beckoned call. I've decided it is time to turn the page on people and things that are a continuous drain and strain on my life and contribute nothing positive. Time to shuffle the deck and pour most of my time and energy into those who care to come to church, care and are serious about serving God instead of pulling the spiritual fire alarm. I'm sure I'm about to make some folks made, and I'll be accused of being uncaring, but I've watched my own father and countless other ministers die way too young because they don't take care of their own needs. I've watched too many PK's leave the church because of resentment and wounds from seeing their father's sacrifice their lives and families for the sake of the takers. Time to refocus and make some key changes in my life. Ironically, my wife just walked into my office and said that her mom had just told her to tell me that I needed to start taking care of myself because the whole family needed me. I may be a bit thick headed at times, but I'm beginning to get the message Lord.

1 comment:

Jerry Thorpe said...

We need you around Darrell. I've been accused of not caring enough because I don't chase after people. I've contacted people who lay out of church. Only to have them show up a time or two only to lay out again. Then they get offended because I'm not on their doorstep again trying to figure out why they are laying out again. They have no personal relationship with God. They just want my time and attention. I have quit chasing them. People within my congregation has contacted them. Only to be told that they are not coming back because I don't care about them. In spite of the fact that the 5 % of the people that I have chased has taken at least 95% of my time. They contribute nothing to the church but expect the most out of it. It is very difficult to hold down a full time secular job and pastor a growing church. Especially when you have a few who want all of your attention and accuse you of not caring if you don't give it to them. Didn't mean to vent. But your dr. is right.