Losing Your Baggage

Dan Davidson When Bill was nine years old and playing right field on his little league team, he missed a fly ball that caused his team to lose the city championship game. He was ridiculed so severely that he determined he would never drop the ball again in his life. Now a pastor, Bill finds that he cannot admit failure to his congregation, his friends, his wife, his kids — and sometimes to himself.

At the age of 19, Bob had a minor scrape with the law. The judge told Bob that he would never amount to anything, something Bob's father had frequently predicted when reacting to a poor report card or a less-than-perfect household project. Although Bob's first pastorate saw a fledgling church grow from 50 to 200 members and his current congregation lead its region in missions-giving, Bob is aware that he often feels as though he still has something to prove.

As a first-year seminary student, Paul was introduced to pornography by another classmate. For ten years, he has secretly struggled with an eerie attraction to it that even he doesn't fully understand. After attending pastoral conferences out of town, he frequently returns home depressed and guilty that he could not resist watching inappropriate movies in his hotel room — behavior he realizes would alienate his wife and kids, if they knew.

Sally is only the third woman in her state to be ordained by her denomination. While she is pretty sure that her motivation for ministry is based on her passion to serve the Lord, she occasionally fears it may also originate from a need to prove herself as a strong woman or to make a theological point to others.

When Charles' children misbehave, he feels tremendous embarrassment. After all, pastors' kids must set a good example. However, Charles is troubled that his reactions to his children are often too explosive and harsh, just the way he remembers his father responding to him many years ago.

Pastors are real people. Every pastor brings some form of "baggage" into both his ministry and his family relationships. With every passing year and every pastoral assignment, the burdensome "pile" has a tendency to grow, until the isolation and loneliness that result from hiding the past seem to weigh down our every attempt at serving the Lord or living a healthy life.

We simply cannot do it alone. We all need colleagues and supporters with whom we can be honest and open — brothers who will intercede to the Lord on our behalf, guardians who will pray for our ministries to remain pure and unencumbered, friends who will seek the best for our families and encourage us through honest fellowship. If you don't have a group of "prayer warriors" with whom you regularly meet and who enable you through their prayers and affirmation, why not make it your objective to set one up today? Tomorrow may be too late. Sometimes, losing your baggage is a good thing.

Taken from Pastor to Pastor newsletter, May/Jun 1999.
Article copyright © 1999, Focus on the Family.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Rev. Dan Davidson directs the Pastoral Resources and Technology departments in the Pastoral Ministries division at Focus on the Family, which includes serving as editorial director of the Pastor to Pastor audio series, The Pastor's Weekly Briefing e-mail and Web newsletter, The Shepherd's Covenant Encourager e-mail and Web newsletter, and the Parsonage Web site itself. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., with his wife, Luz, and their three sons.