Sometimes I need to get away from the usual crowds, take over my pastor hat, and sit in the audience and glean. Today was one of those days and I am thankful for the blessing.
Cheryl and I are on vacation in the Southwest. First stop was Albuquerque, NM for the annual balloon festival. We spent Saturday looking at hundreds of beautiful hot air balloons and returned this morning for another look. We left in time to catch the middle service of a great church, Sagebrush Community Church. Pastor Todd Cook was ending a series called “Heart” and shared a message that encouraged us to be encouragers. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
I have to be honest. When I first sat and looked at the program for the day and saw that the speaker was going to talk about encouragement, I wasn’t too excited. I’m a strategy guy, not a touchy feely guy. I like purpose, drive, and conviction. I wouldn’t be the first person one would think of when it came to the topic of encouragement. (In my family that would be Cheryl or Jeremy.)
As I sat and listened to Todd, who is a gifted speaker and storyteller, I was personally convicted. You see, I’ve been so busy with my strategy and purpose-driven, stress-filled life lately, that I am afraid I have often forgotten my first calling. I am a pastor. I am to help people move from death to life, from heartache and despair to trust and obedience. That process often doesn’t begin with a strategy. It begins when one person befriends another person, invests in them, and ENCOURAGES him or her to walk in a new way. Lately I am not sure that has been as much of my focus as leading and managing a church. I received “encouragement” today to take a fresh look at how I approach my days.
I am not saying I am giving up my strategy. I am not wired that way and frankly God uses me in that setting. I will never be a Barnabas. I will never be as considerate and caring as my wife. She balances me that way, but I do need to slow down more. I do need to take more time with the smallest needs. I need to be more people-centered. After all, that is the ultimate purpose of my calling.
Thanks Todd for encouraging me today to be a better encourager. God used you greatly in this season of my life.
(By the way, I met Todd after the service, and even though he is pastor of a large church and preaches 5 services each weekend, he treated me so warmly. He certainly did not make me feel I was an interruption. In this too, he gave me a wonderful reminder and encouragement. You can here his message from today HERE.)