Looking at my “To-Do” list, I noticed recurrent themes in what I am trying to accomplish. I then placed my action list next to my prayer list and suddenly saw several similarities. Both lists together highlight the most significant concerns in my life right now as a pastor.
1. Overloaded Schedules. I am convinced that most people are way too busy. The hard truth is that they do not know why they are so overloaded. They do not function with a purpose in their family or community life. I believe people think they are accomplishing more by being busy. They think they are helping their children by living every day with a maxed-out schedule. I find this type of life does not resemble the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Jesus moves about with purpose and yet has time to help people. He takes naps and still is able to set aside time for prayer. I am slowly making it my mission to get people to do less in the name of Jesus.
2. Drifting People. The single most painful part of being a pastor is leading people to the Lord and then watching them drift away from faith. I lay awake at night and wonder how I can help people stay true to their commitment to Jesus. Frequently this leads me back to number one on my list. I also think there is a need for more and better discipleship. I believe there is a need for accountability and shepherding. Right now, I can list several people who have already drifted away from the Lord in the last three years, and it concerns me.
3. Rouged Individualism. Everyone is trying to live life alone. Sure, they are surrounded by people, but they let no one inside of their soul and spirit. They do not share their hurts and questions. They do not ask for help or seek the wisdom of the aged. They push back from Church and the community it offers to them. God in his infinite wisdom did not recreate us in Christ to live alone. The “one another” passages fill the New Testament. We are called to a Savior who then connects us to people for their good and ours. This message is getting more difficult to preach with every passing year.
4. Passive Parents. I have helped build a youth ministry in every Church I have the lead. In the early days of my ministry, I could count on a parent to “force” their children to come to youth group. New believers immediately brought their children to group each week without question. As the Church grew, the youth group grew too. That is no longer true. Every youth leader I talk to complains about one thing, “passive parents.” Most parents have no real concern for their child’s spiritual development. They care more about sports and academic development. They claim they “don’t want to push their children.” In the end, there is a void of parental involvement in the spiritual development of their children.
5. Leadership Development. All of the previous issues build up to this one. The Church is struggling to find people who will step up to lead the Lord’s people. People are disconnected from the Church, or they are far too busy, or they simply don’t care. Most Churches used to have a man or woman that everyone looked up to in the Church. They were leaders who had the respect of the generations who followed them. I am finding very few of those people exist today. It concerns me deeply.
These are some of the things God has placed on my heart. I know he is big enough to handle all my concerns, but he did give us free will to reject his work. I pray that people open their heart to the Lord’s leading and I hope that the future looks different from where I am afraid we are headed as believers.