Do you believe this:
All things work together for good?
We (as Christians) quote that a lot (Romans 8:28), but do we really believe it? Honestly, I struggle to see the good in a lot of things I am party to as a pastor/elder. Some things just blow my mind. Yet, I know as a child of God, all things DO work together for good. With God there are no mistakes and no accidents.
I had to go to a funeral on Saturday that took me back to some of my old stomping grounds in Granite Falls, North Carolina. I made good timing driving to First Baptist Granite Falls for the funeral, so I drove the two mile jaunt down to where I used to work as General Manager at The Hardwood Company.
The company is owned by Granite Hardwoods and operates out of this warehouse facility…
Here’s the main office…
I enjoyed my days working there and I learned A LOT!! Things that the Lord has used in my life over and over again. Short of my Bible knowledge, my business background has helped me more than anything in being an elder and leading a church. I went through some tough times leading that business.
As a case in point, one day I was trying to collect $60,000 from a contractor in Blowing Rock, NC who owed us for windows, doors and hardwood flooring for a $2.7 million house. These pictures below are NOT of the actual house I’m speaking of…but, it’s a style of house that’s very similar that I have pictures of that will give you an understanding of the type of house I sold products for…
Pretty nice windows and doors, huh? That’s the type of windows, doors and hardwood flooring our company sold to high-end customers.
Well, the contractor goes to glovebox of his truck (I thought to get his checkbook) and proceeded to pull out a gun and told me in no uncertain terms to get off his job site. (I’m using nice words here. He wasn’t so nice in asking me to leave his job site.) Needless to say, I was scared to death, but the Lord immediately calmed me and I actually walked toward him with my hand out and I told him to put the gun down. I lowered my hand as I got to him and as I did, the gun went down. I don’t think he ever intended to shoot me, I really don’t.
He was under a tremendous amount of pressure. The guy was being slammed by the homeowner who hadn’t paid him and he was tight on cash and it just boiled to a head. The man’s name was J.D. I said, “J.D. put down the gun. Forget about the money. Let’s talk.” We walked to the back of his truck and I lowered the tailgate and we both hopped up and he poured out his heart. He actually cried like a baby. I put my hand on his shoulder and I told him it would be okay. I shared my faith in Christ and told him perhaps all of this was happening to help him to see his need for Christ. He told me he believed in God and knew he needed to get things right. We talked for an hour. By the time we were done, we were shaking hands and then he hugged me and said, “Thanks man. You’ll never know how much this helped.”
Folks, that’s invaluable training for the ministry that they don’t teach in a seminary. Now granted…I’ve never had a man pull a gun on me in my ministry (yet :)), but I have been in some pretty tough counseling sessions that were rather volatile and I always revert back to that scene with J.D.
People just need to know that someone cares. They need to know that it’s going to be okay. They need hope. That’s all I tried to do for J.D. I just listened and encouraged. By the way, I got the money for the windows and doors. It took several weeks (and in increments), but we worked with J.D. and it all worked out. All things work together for good and that episode helped me immeasurably to be able to counsel and relate to people in very practical ways.
Yes, God used those Hardwood Company days and those experiences and lessons running a business to shape me as a pastor. Truly, all things work together for good.
I pulled into the church parking lot for the funeral and parked right in front of this place…
I had eaten dozens and dozens of meals here. I love “Huffy’s.” It’s a “greasy spoon,” type of joint, but it has the best hamburgers you’ve ever eaten. They cook them on the griddle right in front of you. And those crinkle cut fries! Oh…they are the bomb. And to finish it off…two scoops of butter pecan in a sugar cone, please. Yum! (And that’s why I weighed close to 220 pounds back then. I sliced off 25 pounds of that about 3 years ago.)
I try to work hard as a pastor/elder. I want to give my best to my work. I did that at The Hardwood Company too. As Christians we should always set the example in our work ethic and how we lead our lives. Yet, I know many people think pastors live these care-free, easy-going lives. After all, we only work twice a week (Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings). 🙂
I read this from a blog the other day about pastors. See what you think. The article is written by Thom Rainer from his website: http://thomrainer.com/2014/12/22/seven-myths-pastors-workweek/.
Sadly, some church members really believe some of the myths about a pastor’s workweek. And some may point to a lazy pastor they knew. I will readily admit I’ve known some lazy pastors, but no more so than people in other vocations. The pastorate does lend itself to laziness. To the contrary, there are many more workaholic pastors than lazy pastors.
So what are some of the myths about a pastor’s workweek? Let’s look at seven of them.
Myth #1: The pastor has a short workweek. Nope. The challenge a pastor has is getting enough rest and family time. Sermon preparation, counseling, meetings, home visits, hospital visits, connecting with prospects, community activities, church social functions, and many more commitments don’t fit into a forty hour workweek.
Myth #2: Because of the flexible schedule, a pastor has a lot of uninterrupted family time. Most pastors rarely have uninterrupted family time. It is the nature of the calling. Emergencies don’t happen on a pre-planned schedule. The call for pastoral ministry comes at all times of the day and night.
Myth #3: The pastor is able to spend most of the week in sermon preparation. Frankly, most pastors need to spend more time in sermon preparation. But that time is “invisible” to church members. They don’t know that a pastor is truly working during those hours. Sadly, pastors often yield to the demand of interruptions and rarely have uninterrupted time to work on sermons.
Myth #4: Pastors are accountable to no one for their workweek. To the contrary, most pastors are accountable to most everyone in the church. And church members have a plethora and variety of expectations.
Myth #5: Pastors can take vacations at any time. Most people like to take some vacation days around Christmas. That is difficult for many pastors since there are so many church functions at Christmas. And almost every pastor has a story of ending a vacation abruptly to do a funeral of a church member.
Myth #6: The pastor’s workweek is predictable and routine. Absolutely not! I know of few jobs that have the unpredictability and surprises like that of a pastor. And few jobs have the wild swings in emotions as does the pastorate. The pastor may be joyfully sharing the gospel or performing a wedding on one day, only to officiate the funeral of a friend and hear from four complainers the next day.
Myth #7: The pastor’s workweek is low stress compared to others. I believe pastors have one of the most difficult and stressful jobs on earth. In fact, it is an impossible job outside of the power and call of Christ. It is little wonder that too many pastors deal with lots of stress and depression.
Pastors and church staff are my heroes. They often have a thankless job with long and stressful work weeks. I want to be their encourager and prayer intercessor. I want to express my love for them openly and enthusiastically. I thank God for pastors.
Thanks Thom! I agree wholeheartedly!
Want to see our family Christmas picture…
You gotta love Andrew’s expression! Josh is pretty happy too! He’s holding his one-month old daughter. I think we all look pretty good, if I do say so myself.
Here’s the original four…
Many people tell me that if you put a blonde wig on me, that I’d like just like my sister Kim. Oh Kimmie…I’m so sorry for you that they say that! I get the best end of that deal 🙂
We’re enjoying Charlotte at our house. Clara loves holding her and Charlotte loves sleeping on her aunt Clara…
…and occasionally Clara gets a bit sleepy too!
Isn’t that precious!
Yes, indeed…all things work together for good. To God be the Glory!
Chess is a great game for seeing and understanding how bad things can look and then they change in a flash…
Clara has a big grin on her face, but that might change in just a couple of moves. 🙂
By the way, for the winter lovers out there. All the guys that I follow and read are pulling back on winter. It seems that we are in a split flow. We get the cold air and then no moisture. Remember how I shared a while back that the atmosphere gets into a pattern and that pattern will create a rut for the winter. So far we’ve been in a rut of moisture and slightly above average temperatures for those seasons of moisture. Today we saw snow flurries in Wilkes County for 2-3 hours…but, it was 35-37 degrees at the time. Close, but no cigar.
Most of the weather prognosticators are now saying that the snow will be confined to later January if not February. Honestly at this point, we are 1/3 of the way through winter. (Understand that meteorological winter is December through February.) Yes, I know, I know, we can get snow in March, but technically it’s easier to get snow on Dec. 10th (11 days before winter) than it is on March 10th (10 days before spring).
So here’s what the latest forecast model for temps look like through January 4th (this Sunday)…
You see the cold is seeping into NC. But, look how cold (the green and purple) it gets all the way into south Texas. There may be snow this week as far south as San Antonio, TX. Wow!
Now take a look at the time frame from Jan 4-9. It’s starting to get colder…
See there are more “blues” into NC. Finally the period Jan 9-14 shows this…
Even more blue, but nothing extreme. You don’t see the greens. So, you ask, “What do I think?” Well, I think we’ll have a slight chance at snow in late January, but a much better shot at snow in February because that’s always our best month for snow. I still think we could get a big snow (greater than 4″), but honestly, as the days pass by and the fronts pass by with so much warm air imbedded in the mid and upper levels, (just enough to stay above freezing), then I believe our chances are getting tougher to have a winter like last year, where we had three really nice snowstorms. We’ll see. Only God knows! And I’m glad of that (Only God Knows…). That way I’m 100% confident that all things will work together for good! 🙂