The burden of pastoring a church is often heavy. It is a big calling that we feel on our lives. Doing this while also working a job outside the church adds another level of complexity and difficulty that cannot be denied. Speaking from my own, personal experience I can say that sometimes it can be difficult to stay motivated. I hope that this story will encourage and inspire any pastor that still works a job outside the church.
You may or may not know this, but in addition to being a pastor, I am also a registered nurse. After nearly two decades working in the emergency room, I know work with cancer patients. That’s where this story begins.
Many of my patients spend multiple hours in our clinic getting infusions. The particular patient in this story spent 3-4 hours once a week for 6-8 weeks. His wife spent pretty much all of those hours sitting in the recliner next to him. This allowed me plenty of opportunities to talk with them both and to get to know them a little. I remember one time I looked at the wife and could see the fear in her eyes. Her husband was doing quite well, but cancer is scary. I sat down next to them both, held her hand for a moment as she shed just a few tears. A few tears are all she would allow herself. She wanted to be brave and strong for her husband.
In the course of our conversations it came out that I pastored a local church. They told me about their church and I mentioned some folks that I know that also attend that church. She then said that she would like to attend our church sometime, as a show of support. I gave her information about where we met and our service times and didn’t think much more about it.
Her husband completed his treatment and is doing well. A couple of weeks after his last treatment she suddenly walks up to my desk and tells me that her ladies Bible study group was coming to our church that Sunday. I gave her my business card and pointed her to our Facebook page and website for full details. Honestly, I didn’t think any more about it. I’ve had a number of people tell me they were coming, who still haven’t. I’m certain that some of them will, but I trust God with the timing.
Well, the following Sunday four ladies walk into our little church. One of them was the wife I mentioned above. This was her ladies Bible study group. They were actually there! I hugged her and introduced myself and my wife and kids to all of these ladies. We had a great service and I really enjoyed having them there. We chatted a little after the service and they left. Honestly, I didn’t think much more about it at that time.
Over the next couple weeks I had some interactions with a woman on our church Facebook page. She talked about coming to a service soon and even apologized for missing the previous Sunday. I was confused cause her Facebook page said she lived up north. I continued to interact with her, but didn’t think too much about it.
The next Sunday a woman walks into our service. I couldn’t remember her name, but I recognized her as one of the ladies from that group. I asked her to remind me her name and we caught up a little. As we talked she told me that she had only recently moved to this area, from someplace up north, and since had been looking for a church family. She told me what she liked about our church and we talked a little about worship music, etc. I later found that she had also put a check in the offering bucket.
I can’t say for certain how long she will be part of our church family. But, what I can say that she is part of our church now and it happened because of the time I spent working in the community God has called me to serve.
If you are working a job outside the church, especially if it’s in the community God has called you to serve, be on a constant look out for the opportunities to serve people. Try not to worry too much about getting them to come to church. Serve them. Be open. God will take care of the results.Matt Norman
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