Ed Stetzer and Laurie Nichols on Lessons From Moses: Pastor, You Are Not Alone!

Image: John Everett Millais

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.

“Mental health issues in general and burnout in particular are real issues for pastors and leaders as we minister today in our complex world.”

When I wrote those words this past January, I couldn’t have imagined that our complex world would become one that looked almost unrecognizable only three months later.

Three months later, we see burnout on a different scale. Pastors are tired. Staff are tired. Our leaders are seeking endless ways to stave off the fear and anxiety that those under our care are feeling.

Today, I started to try to look at my inbox. It has 552 emails in it that I need to reply to— many from my staff who are waiting on me for a few things. Others from pastors with serious and significant questions. And, I think I will probably be working on these emails throughout the weekend.

But, who remembers what a weekend is anymore. There is no Monday, Friday, or Sunday for many of us. There is just day, day, and day.

And, burnout— for many of us— is close.

A Staff Held High

When I think of where we are today, I think of Moses. In Exodus 14, when the Lord God set his people free from the harsh rule of Pharaoh, God

…said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground”… Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land” (Exod. 14: 15-16, 19).

Holding up the staff in trust must have been exhausting. In fact, we see later on in Exodus 17 when Israel is fighting the Amalekites that Moses needed help with that staff:

As long as Moses held up his hands, Israel prevailed; but when he lowered them, Amalek prevailed. When Moses’ hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Then Aaron and Hur held his hands up, one on each side, so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down (Exod. 17:11-12).

Many of us are in similar postures right now. As our people are seeking to find refuge from the terror surrounding us, we raise our arms high in worship and prayer that we would lead them well. And as we seek to lead well and intercede well, like Moses, many of us are feeling tired, feeling burned out. And we need an Aaron and a Hur.

I want you to hear something important right now: I know you are burned out and tired, and even a bit fearful for our world, for your church, and even for yourself and your loved ones. I feel that as well. And our team, my staff, feel similar things, as I am sure yours does as well.

And it’s going to get harder before it gets better.

But let me remind you of two very important truths that we find even in the story of Moses: (1) God’s goodness will prevail and (2) you are not alone.

First, God’s goodness will prevail.

I cannot pretend to know the future, but what I can do is look to the past and see that time and time again, exceeding good comes after enormous pain.

Let’s not pretend for a moment that as Moses watched God’s people cross through the parted waters, seeking refuge from hundreds of years of slavery, that he didn’t have doubts that the waters would come crashing down. Or that as his staff sank lower as Israel fought the Amalekites that all might end in defeat.

But time and time again, God has come through.

This is not to say that the trials we are currently going through won’t be fierce and the consequences severe. And yet God’s goodness will prevail. His faithfulness is to a thousand generations. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will make all things new.

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Source: Christianity Today