If you work on the staff where I preach, you are subjected to several requirements and expectations. They are all written down and given to you during your on-boarding process. Most are what you would expect of any church staff position. For instance, all of your relationships should reflect the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Integrity should be the hallmark of all your dealings — personal and business.
However, there are two requirements that aren’t written down but are expected just the same. You see, I have a practice of walking up to someone who serves on staff and asking two questions. First, where are you reading in Scripture and two, what is Jesus teaching you?
Stammering to give an answer will get you sent home. That’s right. I’ll send you home. Why? Frankly, if you’re not doing ministry out of the overflow of what Jesus is doing in your own life, you are dangerous to the church’s work. Ministers don’t explode. We never lose control and run amok in our congregations. Pastors implode. That is, the pressure on the outside becomes greater than the pressure on the inside and the pastor collapses.
The inner collapse is usually accompanied by some kind of bone-headed decision that ends up with the pastor being fired. The pastor slowly loses control and starts to drink too much. They watch porn on a church computer. They have an affair that is easily discovered. When you hear the story, you almost think the pastor is trying to get fired.
They are. Somehow and in some way, they have to ease the pressure that is crushing their lives.
Pastors don’t know how to ask for help. They don’t know how to tell their churches that they are sinking. And worse, they don’t do a good job of taking care of their mental, spiritual, and emotional selves. Most pastors don’t have a close friend that can listen to their real struggles and challenges. Fewer still have a pastor or counselor. Few, if any, take any kind of spiritual retreats or have daily practices of spiritual disciplines. Given these realities, no one should be surprised that pastors quickly exhaust whatever spiritual resources they have.
That’s why I challenge our ministers about their reading of Scripture. I hope our ministers read a lot of books. I hope they’re life-long learners. Having said that, NOTHING replaces Scripture in the life of a believer.
By the way, where are you reading in the scriptures and what is Jesus teaching you?