i am severely afflicted; give me life, o Lord, according to your word! [ps 119:107]
severely afflicted. that is quite a statement.
i spent three days with eight acts 29 pastors recently (acts 29 is a network of church planting churches that we call home) leading them in a cohort learning experience. prayer, relationships, diving deep, coaching one another, and more were all a part of these three days. one common theme: they have all been severely afflicted over the last year and and a half. a pastor friend of mine called pastoring in this season a “brutal privilege.”
“brutal” – it is “brutal” because most if not all of the pastors i know who are proclaiming and living the gospel of Jesus Christ have been severely afflicted over this past season. and one of the things that has made it most brutal, church members, close friends, and family members have been a part of most of the affliction. men who have laid their life down for the cause of the kingdom of Jesus Christ have been severely afflicted – often by those they love. race, masks, politics, making a decision, not making a decision – have led many to leave who we loved. i share this with you in case you didn’t know – now you know. may it stir you and i to pray for the many who daily serve in this “brutal privilege”.
“privilege” – it is also “privilege.” why? marc (our lead pastor) and i talk about this often. and, we as a team of pastors are constantly trying to remind ourselves – this is a “privilege”. here are two of many reasons. first, it is a “privilege” because the LORD has called us to this life. the Father, by the work of his Son, and the anointing of his Spirit – has set us aside to this work, this life, this “privilege.” i have been a pastor for some 23 years. i love what i get to do. it is hard, often brutal, but it is a “privilege.” second, it is a “privilege” because this calling will end. one day there will be no need for pastors, shepherds. we will be in the presence of The Shepherd and then our calling will end. so we, so i live in this temporary calling with joy and hope, knowing one day this temporary work will end when the permanent comes.
give me life, o Lord, according to your word!
this is my prayer every day my heart and mind think to breath it out. the “brutal privilege” is only possible in the life i have in Jesus by his presence (word and Spirit). the only hope for eternal fruit is the presence of God. the only hope for lives to be reconciled to God is the presence of God. the only hope for lives to be renewed is the presence of God. the only hope i have to remain in this calling with joy and life is the presence of God. so, i breath out this prayer. and, i breath it out for many other friends who are living in this “brutal privilege.”
i have two requests of you today.
1) pray for your pastor’s soul. how? how about – “give them life, o Lord, according to your word!” this would be an amazing prayer. i would cherish your prayers as would the other pastors of matthias as well as the many pastors around us who faithfully serve the Lord. speak out names and pray for them – for life in God’s presence. (matthias pastors: kraig kubicek, jeff burynski, justin nichols, lonnie taylor, keith kozlowski, john ryan, chris chapman, marc sikma.)
2) pray for your soul. how? how about – “give them (me) life, o Lord, according to your word!” this is a request before the Lord your soul needs as well. we all have callings that can be a “brutal privilege” – parenting, marriage, our jobs, our ministries, our friendships, and more. and these callings, precisely because they are a call to follow Jesus in a spiritual war down a road of less of me and more of him, can be “brutal” and a “privilege”. you need life from the presence of the Lord. pray for that, beg for that, every morning you have breath.
for us all remember – all of our callings are temporary. whether pastoring or ____________. every call on this earth is temporary except one – your call to be a son or daughter of the King, your Lord. so, press into your temporary calling and ask for life in his presence alone! pray for pastors to press in and have life in his presence alone! and pray with steadfast hope knowing that one day all these temporary callings will be swallowed up into our permanent calling of being his son / his daughter. and that, oh my, that will be life and life to the full because we will forever be in his presence!
~ john ryan