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3 mistakes battered pastors make

May 6, 2016

Everyone gets beat up...it happens. When you're in ministry, the job is to not "leak" it all over the place.

As my friend and mentor, Chip Stamm wrote several years ago...Every student of the Christian faith has had at least one opportunity to study the works of John Donne. Donne was a priest, a poet, and a pastor who wrote during the same period as William Shakespeare. He suffered some of the same pain from which we all suffer. While Donne believed fervently in God, he felt “betrothed” to sin. This condition informed much of his writing.
 
Chip Stamm also suggests that the poem reminds him of the familiar words in Robinson's "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" in which the poet asks to be "fettered" to God's love, realizing that he, like each of us, is "prone to wander.

Batter my heart, three-personed God; for you
     As yet but knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend;
     That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurped town to another due,
     Labor to admit you, but, oh, to no end;
     Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend;
But is captive and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you and would be loved fain;
     But am betrothed unto your enemy;
     Divorce me, untie or break that knot again;
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
     Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
     Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

—John Donne (1573-1631), Sonnet XIV
 
It seems to me that during worship it is conceivable that you might find yourself with mixed motives, being distracted, at odds with the intensity of the worship experience. You’re not the first to have these feelings. We are battered by the deceit of the Evil One who desperately wants our attention—never more than when we are praising God. Pray that God will unbind you in worship—only God is capable of doing so, and He does it gladly!
Suggestions to avoid showing how "battered" you may be feeling.
 
1. Stop beating up on yourself for your failings. Worship is not about you.
 
2. Confess in private—your tears and endless self-deprecation are not attractive substitutes for leadership when you're up-front.
 
3. Let people feel convicted on their own—you don't need to manipulate them with your neediness. It's not in the design of worship leadership. Stop reading to your congregation from your journal! They have one, too, and it's just as damaging as yours. 

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