As a parent, you try your hardest to shield your children from the mistakes you made when you were younger—and the consequences of those mistakes. Parents strive to provide their children a life of good choices and joy. We warn them about bad decisions and their consequences. We try to teach them life lessons and expect them to remember, and we get frustrated when they have bouts of ‘amnesia' when they seem to forget those previous teachings.
As a pastor, I often experience these same feelings. Pastors invest in others, we encourage others, we hear cries for change, and we hope those cries turn into lifestyle changes. We walk alongside individuals and silently watch as words don’t always equal actions. This is probably the most difficult part of discipling. And yes, discipling others is everyone’s responsibility, not just the pastor’s.
I often find myself wrestling with the tension on how to better connect with others, or how to find better ways to make teachings stick, so lessons can be used, not forgotten. How can I stress the importance of good choices as a Christ follower? How can I convey the importance of avoiding sinful actions, or even steering clear when temptation visits?
As these thoughts kept circling in my brain, a few things occurred to me. It was only when I was at my lowest point did change come about in my life. And the teachings given to me throughout my own life began to resurface in my memory. I also realized, I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t experience the many battles I had the privilege to fight. In reflection, God was never far away from me even though I might have seemed distant to Him.
What’s my point? We all hope for those life changing conversions for others. The conversions where people find Jesus, and drastically change their sinning ways immediately. But, these conversions are often few and far between. More often we witness a slow erosion of previous lifestyles as the Lord works in a person. The journey begins and slowly the actions begin aligning with the decision to follow Jesus. I must say, building a foundation on Jesus takes time. Working through questions, understanding the Bible, prayer and encouragement are all needed, and often need time to develop.
So, be encouraged. Don’t give up on anyone. They need you every step of the way. We are all on a different journey with the same destination. No two paths are exactly the same. And, we don’t know specifically what God is doing in anyone’s life at any specific time.
Just as with being a parent, it hurts when you are watching your child fall. It is inevitable, we can’t always protect them and they are going to experience pain. So although we cannot prevent it, the more important lesson for us is to be there for them when they need us the most- the recovery.
From time to time, Rev D posts random thoughts about life as a Pastor and Servant of Christ. He has a unique perspective. Blog entries are posted randomly.