Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Chair at Wheaton College, serves as a dean at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.
Laurie Nichols is Director of Communications and Marketing for the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, creator of the Our Gospel Story curriculum, co-host of the podcast Living in the Land of Oz, and she blogs at Not All Those Who Wander.
Two months of planning for our GC2 Summit on Facing Hard Truths & Challenges in Pastoral Ministry couldn’t have prepared us for what we saw God do this past Friday. Over 400 leaders joined us in person and nearly 80 livestreamed in from all over the world to hear pastors and counselors talk about leadership, burnout, and mental health. If you were unable to join us, you can purchase the full day’s recordings through the GC2 website. They will be available until January 10, 2020.
The messages from leaders such as Rick Warren, Derwin Gray, Ruth Hayley Barton, Drew Hyun, David Wang, Philip Ryken, Margaret Diddams, and others reflected the most important messages pastors need to hear today. Below are some of our takeaways.
In the first article we dealt with four lies pastors can easily believe. Here are four more that can deceive pastors if we aren’t careful.
5. I just need to love God better!
This one is so easy because, like so many lies, it has an element of truth to it. We do want to love God with our heart, soul, and strength. But we tend to get this wrong because of our innate tendency toward self-justification and self-righteousness.
Whenever we put ourselves or our performance at the center, things go sideways in a hurry. It’s not about you loving God. It’s about God loving you. We love the One who first loved us.
This is why grace is so amazing: God loved us when we were unlovely. To paraphrase Jonathan Edwards, the only thing you brought to salvation was your sin. And yet God loved you so much Jesus died for you. You are his child; he’s not mad at you.
Try as you might, even if you did everything right, you would still be an imperfect person trying to love God better. Take some time to just rest in the knowledge that God loves you.
Sometimes pastors do a better job of telling others the truth about who they are in Christ than believing the same truth they teach others also applies to them. Understanding our identity in Christ may be the most important issue for the church in our changing times today.
Who you are in Christ defines you, not what you have or haven’t accomplished, or how well you love. Drew Hyun reminded us at the Summit, “What you do matters, but who you are matters more.”
6. God is disappointed in me for not doing _______ .
We have a tendency to think of God like we do people. We have anthropomorphized him such that our default mindset is of a towering figure shaking his finger at all of our wrongs. If we prayed more, he’d love us more. Or if we didn’t watch that series on Netflix, he’d be more proud of us. If we began every day with 30 more minutes of quiet time, he’d think we were on the right path.
Here’s the truth: We’ve got to stop making ourselves the hero and let Jesus be the hero that he needs to be. Pastor, it’s not about you, or me. Or what we’ve done or haven’t done. It’s about Jesus. That’s it.
Take a lesson from David. David was the man after God’s heart, right? He loved the Lord and focused on serving him. But David also sinned terribly and felt remarkable grief (see Psalm 51). Here’s the thing, though: David didn’t spend the rest of his life in the shadow of his sin, but in pursuit of his Hero.
Maybe that’s why the New Testament doesn’t say a negative word about David. He’s remembered as being one, though imperfect, whose hero was God.
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Source: Christianity Today