It Shouldn’t Be Depressing

Working in the church should not be a depressant. I am not saying that it is, just that it should not be.

This thought comes to me while thinking about many men who leave their post with hurt and disillusion. Others who endure with a happy face painted on so that no one sees their pain because they have no place to go and they have to feed their families. There are statisticians who have studied and enumerated this reality. They would leave if they could. Some do anyway.

But the fact is that serving God within the context of His church should be a joyous thing. If it is not, there is certainly something wrong. This wrong may be on the side of the minister or on the side of those to whom he ministers. It may be a combination of both. But, it is very rarely a matter of external circumstances. It seems that most church folks are observant of such things from outside and keep them at bay.

Still, many pastors go to their pulpits with drudgery, hoping that something will be heard that is not going to be used in the next week as a whipping stick. They are times that he runs from the passage that he knows God is leading him to preach because he knows it will be used to bring him down further.  He goes to his office and shrinks at the ringing phone because he sadly knows that there are those who do not carry joy in their voices. His ears perk when the door is opened because there is a darkness that some bring to the room and he really needs something other than that this Monday morning.

Down deep, he knows that there are people who really love him, and these are people who attend his church. He is at ease with them even though he knows that the jealous others will make something of it. He prays that they would stand up with him (not just for him) and show enough interest to help cast a vision that will turn this social club into a church.

There are many in the church who think that everything is a matter of money (many in government think so as well – we know better). There are many who think that stuff is what matters. Style is raised as being more important than most other things. The music of worship becomes the impetus for decline or control wars. And there is a dry baptistery that sees water maybe one time every other year.

Depression sets in on the one man that should never experience it, or so it seems. This depression is rarely diagnosed clinically because of the stigma involved. Help is also seldom sought because this man of God still has the hope inside that only one possessed by the Holy Spirit can have. In the quiet places that no one else sees he finally releases, and the hurt overwhelms if only for that moment.

This should never be the case, but it is. There really is not much that anyone can do directly for that pastor. Most of the time, he will never let on just how much this sorrow and pain is tearing him up inside, even if specifically asked. He has to be strong all the time or he will lose what little momentum he thinks he has gained. He has a “don’t quit” attitude that pushes him to a stubbornness which usually never pays off.

The encouragement that I want to share here is really less about that man who is hurting and more about the church in which he serves. You see, when the light is on him, every flaw he has is on open display. Believe me; he already knows which things are not right. You don’t need to point them out. So take the light off him. He doesn’t want the spot light anyway.  It will allow him to have a flaw or two which are not displayed before the whole world. Give that man of God some dignity, the same dignity you want to enjoy in spite of your weak places.

Instead, help him put the light on things that God has called the congregation to do; The things God has shown him (which is absolutely not the repairing of everything you consider to be flawed in the pastor). After all, he may never get that thing corrected which you consider to be wrong. And that thing that you are so pointedly attempting to change in him may not actually be a problem after all. So, get off his back and get on his side. His hidden depression that is hindering the work will begin to heal, and people will come to Christ. Sounds like a prescription for good in both the pastor and the congregation.

See You SONday

© 2013 SF Gallagher


One Of “Those” Sinners

Confronting sin does not necessarily have to include the naming that sin. I do not find it in scripture that we are to go about naming people’s sins and calling them out and shaming them into the grace which God offers. We don’t need to categorize sin. We do not need to catalogue sin. In fact, we don’t even have to chastise sin. Rather than telling people all about their particular sins as if we had none ourselves, let’s tell them about Jesus!

There are too many people condemning others. They smile at the chance to do so. If there is a chance to point their pharisaical accusing crooked little fingers at another person, they rejoice at the opportunity. They are always looking for sin. They are always looking for wrong. They always want to accuse. They want to reject. They want to glorify themselves. They really know nothing about grace. They don’t tell them about Jesus.

I am certainly no advocate of ignoring sin either. There are those who go to this extreme as well. The absence of sin is also the absence of the need for salvation and God’s word is clear that all have sinned. That is a settled issue. It is an issue that bears preaching and telling. But it is not an issue that requires an attack. Rather, it is an issue that requires a Savior. We are, with our message, to convince men of sin. But to attack their personal sins seems to be an abuse of that mandate, because we are to convince, we are not to convict. That is the task of the Holy Spirit. Without some discussion of sin, we can’t tell them about Jesus.

So, for us, we tell everyone about the grace of God that cleanses all sin. When we sinners respond to His grace, God will cleanse them all (1 John 1:9). My view … Just tell everyone about Jesus’ love and sacrifice for every sinner. We can point out the fact that men are sinners without tearing them to shreds over a particular sin. If they are to be broken, leave that to God. Our part of the message is about healing, forgiving, cleansing and salvation. After all we are proclaiming grace – aren’t we?  Let’s tell them about Jesus!

See You SONday

© 2103 SF Gallagher

That Little Phrase

November 2, 2013

I penned the following words for the monthly newsletter of Trinity Baptist Church in Palmdale, CA when I was her pastor in January of 2006. At that time, I worked as a truck driver in the Mojave Desert and through Los Angeles to make ends meet. I trust that it will make sense today.

“He never wanted it to be what it had become.”

     These words came to my mind as I traveled north on Highway 14 yesterday. I am not sure what they were to become, but there was such an urgency about them in my mind that, after I fought the urge for about ten minutes, I stopped all 18 of my wheels and proceeded to write them on the notepad I keep for just such an occasion.

     So there I was, in the middle of the desert north of Mojave, California, intending to be about a half minute or so, when I smelled something. It was not a bad smell, but it was familiar and I knew what it was immediately. Looking out of my windshield, there it was billowing steam from under the hood. A coolant line had sprung a fairly small leak, just a quarter inch or so, but under the immense pressure of the 190 degree water and antifreeze, it was making quite a show. By the time it was done, we had replaced five gallons of fluids, and my half minute turned into five and one half hours waiting on the mechanic to come with a new piece of hose.

   Now there is a point to my story. You see, if God had not stopped me long enough to jot a quick note to myself, or if I had chosen to use my micro cassette recorder rather than my pen to record this phrase which was meaningless at the moment, I might not have even noticed the leak until the engine had overheated and possibly been seriously damaged. The steam would have passed unnoticed right under my truck at 55 MPH. But God got my attention in an abnormal way and got me to do something I would not normally do. It was then that the situation became clear.

     So, is God trying to get your attention and cause you to see what might not be clear any other way? Are you feeling an urgency to do something you might not ordinarily do and you cannot get that thing off your mind? Are you afraid of that strange thing because it is so unusual?

     As you start your new year, decide to do the unusual. Shake something up and see what happens when things are not as normal as you would like. God may have something in that out of place event that you need to see.

Well, that was my story. I sure am glad I stopped that January day in 2006. Not only do I have a nice story to tell, but I also did not get stuck in the desert needing a tow truck. Thus we have another story of God taking care of simple and perhaps mundane things. Things like this just make me more resolved to go to church every single time.

By the way. I have never used this phrase for anything significant in and of itself. I am pretty sure that those inspired (not to Biblical proportions) word really don’t mean anything at all. But if I am ever in the desert, especially while driving an 18 wheeler, and those words come to mind, I am going to stop and sniff around a bit. Might just find something too.

See You SONday

(c) 2013 SF Gallagher