“Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding. ~ Jeremiah 3:15
Dear Pastor Terry,
Yesterday, a pastor friend from South Carolina whom I admire and respect posted this social media message:
To my Christian Friends:
I returned yesterday from a conference for pastors. So many of my colleagues bear burdens you just can’t imagine unless you’ve been there (just as I cannot truly imagine childbirth). Please look for ways to encourage and build up your pastor. Question the reasonableness of your expectations, and don’t let them become your “demands.” Say “thank you,” and “I love you” and ask “How is your family (I mean really!)?” Have you ever bought your pastor lunch, not because you had some church business or grievance you wanted to discuss, but just to show kindness? Pastors are real people. They bear real people’s burdens. They bear them for their very real families … and for yours. Many are suffering in silence. The Church in America is weaker for it. Please be part of the solution, not the problem.
Moments after reading the post, I sent him a private message with a genuine question. I asked him what’s at the core of the pastoral burdens he mentioned.
It’s a cumulative list of things, he said, but among them “…It’s as if people are agitated, ginned up by politics and talk radio and uncertainty about their futures … and then that spills over into their spiritual lives. They’re often on the attack and don’t even know it! They have no inner peace, so they have no peace in their relationships. It’s not a new thing. But it is growing.”
Pastor Terry Watson at the Rock of Northeast Arkansas
No inner peace.
I’ve thought much about this lately.
Some time about a year ago as we drove from the parking lot onto US 49 headed to lunch after the 9:30 service, Dana asked as she always does, “Well what did you think?”
My response wasn’t the typical one she expects when I share a thought about the sermon you preached. In reply to her question, I offered this:
“I think it’s a pleasure to learn from, and observe a man who is completely at peace.” That’s what I told her.
I meant it as the highest compliment. The quest for real peace can go down lots of wrong detours in this world. But when someone has authentic inner peace … that peace that surpasses all understanding, you recognize it, and what a wonderful thing it is to witness. I have felt it too, for some time now, and because of peace, I am changed.
Isn’t it great and aren’t we incredibly thankful when we reach the point where we’re completely over ourselves?
But let me back up a moment to my friend’s social media post yesterday and the need he expressed to build up your pastor and church leadership.
What’s funny is not an hour before I read his post, I’d chosen you for today’s note. You’ve been on the list from Day 1, but something about today seemed right. It’s a little funny that I can say, “Pastor, you’ve been on my list for a while now!” Ha!
Tomorrow, you’ll stand in front of a thousand people over two services. Has the reality and magnitude of that milestone even really set in yet? What an amazing lifetime of ministry.
So many people would be inclined to look out and say to themselves, “Look what I’ve done.”
But the best thing of it all is I know how deep inside your heart you don’t take the credit. You know where the credit goes. You know what it’s all about. You know the identity of the real Senior Pastor.
I’m guessing tomorrow you’ll continue the series on Getting Real. Now, that’s my kind of stuff. It’s also the thing I appreciate most about you.
Your authentic, transparent, and humble example in a life well lived as a genuine servant leader is the best gospel message you can preach. But we like your preaching pretty well too, by the way. Ha.
There was a time in life when I was angry with the Church. Thought I didn’t really need the church. “I can have church any where, any time,” I thought to myself. I was wrong. I need a church family for more reasons than I can list here. Thank you for bringing Dana and me back to Church.
Thank you for being a good man and a trusted shepherd. That’s honestly the best thing I know to say.
You’re one of those people I wish I’d known longer. I wonder what things we might have done together, shared about, and dreamt toward. But it’s all good. We have an eternity for those things now, don’t we?
We love, and care about your family, and declare the best is yet to come.
PS: If you go to Wal-Mart today, remember you don’t have to click the lock five times. Three times will do just fine.
A thankful sheep in the flock of The Rock,