Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Leadership (03/14/05)
TITLE: Worn Out
By Karen Deikun
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One of the deacons had called it burnout. “You need a vacation, John. That’s all.” It had only been four weeks since his last vacation – and he hadn’t wanted to come back. It had taken every ounce of strength he had to get on the plane to come home. Even Judy was feeling it. A little furrow on her forehead and that worried expression on her face showed her concern. She was trying to be a cheerleader, but it wasn’t working.
When had the weight gotten so heavy? When had the joy of serving become a burden? A year ago everything seemed to be going so well. The church was growing, and writing the sermon every week had been an exciting challenge. His flock was thriving, and people were coming to Christ.
Now, although the same things were happening, he saw beneath the surface. His counseling sessions had tripled and he wondered if people were even listening to God’s Word. How could they be when they were acting in direct disobedience? Marriages were falling apart due to infidelity. Fathers were choosing to watch TV and leave family devotions to their wives. One of the trustees had a pregnant daughter and the family had chosen an abortion so that no one would know. It went on and on. He was a failure. Somehow he hadn’t gotten the truth across.
The phone rang. “John, its Ada Werdlow. She’s asking you to visit.” Said Judy.
Wearily he nodded. Ada was 81, and he’d visited her occasionall over the years. She was a smart old lady who knew her Bible, and he actually enjoyed their visits, but today he just didn’t feel like it. However, out of habit, he put on his jacket and went/
He found Ada propped up in bed with her Bible open. Grinning, she greeted him. “Pastor John! You’re a sight for sore eyes.” She beckoned him to sit.
“Pastor, have you ever wanted to just throw down the tablets and break ‘em?” she asked. He sat still, wondering if she’d gotten senile.
“What do you mean, Ada?” he asked.
“I’ve been readin’ about Moses lately. I got to the part where Moses goes up the mountain to git the Ten Commandments. He gits these tablets - written with God’s own finger, mind - and he comes down all excited, with a holy glow. And what does he find? His flock is dancin’ around a golden calf. Well, he’s so mad; he jest throws those tablets down! Breaks ‘em into pieces! Ever git to feelin’ that way about your flock, Pastor John? Ever wonder why ya even try?”
It felt like she was reading his mind – his heart. Was this a message meant for him, or was it a coincidence?
Ada chuckled. “I’ve been in this bed a long time, Pastor John. I spend a lot of time prayin’ for folks. Seems like God’s been puttin’ you on my mind a whole lot lately. I read this passage today and God says to me, ‘Ada, ya ought to call Pastor John and remind him about this’ – so I jest did like I was told. Ya know, Pastor, those people jest drove Moses crazy, but he loved ‘em and felt responsible for ‘em. He prayed for ‘em and got ‘em out of trouble more than once! Moses was feelin’ pretty low about that calf. But don’t forget, Pastor John, by and by - after they wandered and sinned, and some of ‘em died - well their kids did finally get to that Promised Land.
You just do what ya been called to do, Pastor John. Let the good Lord worry about the rest. That’s right, you jest lay that burden down.”
She patted his hand. She was done talking and turned to take a nap. Pastor John had come in weary, but as he left, he felt his spirit lift. God knew. He understood. In order to lead his flock, John just had to follow the Shepherd.
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