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Pastors on the Front Lines

Certainly, there has been nothing normal about this year of 2020. We speak so often of those serving on the “front lines” in the fight against Covid-19, the tireless efforts of the nurses, doctors, first responders, police, and fire rescue workers. But one important group that is not mentioned is the tireless and courageous efforts of our pastors. If any group of workers are on the front lines today, they are our pastors.

So many expectations, so many job responsibilities for the average pastor. My own tradition, the United Methodist Church, speaks of the 21 duties of every pastor. One church facing a change of pastor surveyed the congregation at an Oklahoma location a few years ago and asked the people: “What are the qualities you seek in a new pastor?” Would you believe that they came up with a list of 265 different qualities they were seeking? Is it any wonder that our pastors burnout, drop out or act out in increasing numbers every year?

And then there is the question of the audience to whom we preach the good news of the Gospel. Douglas Webster, in his book Selling Jesus: What’s Wrong with Marketing the Church, asks the following: “How do we present Christ to a consumer-oriented, sex-crazed, self-preoccupied, success-focused, technologically-sophisticated, light-hearted, entertainment-centered culture?” (Downer’s Grove: Inter-Varsity, 1992, p. 20). Not an easy task for anyone today.

So if you have feelings of burnout, wounds that won’t heal, obsessive tendencies that are hard to manage, struggles with workaholism, perfectionism, or maybe just the kind of tiredness that goes all the way to the bone, let us offer you a time of refreshing, renewal and reinvigoration at no cost to you. At the Walt Crow Center for Pastors in Oklahoma City, we want to give you three nights and four days to rest, have fun, invite your spouse, or come alone. And if your soul needs some Sabbath time, we can offer you a meeting with a therapist, the help of a spiritual director and a pastoral coach or mentor, all at no cost to you.

I know from experience—at least four times in my ministry of nearly 30 years in the local church and teaching at a Christian university—I have hit bottom and faced burnout or worse. Recently, God “interrupted” my life once again when I was laid off from my full-time teaching position at a local university. So, pastor friend, I do feel your pain. I know your hurt. I know the hurt of rejection and dismissal, especially when we are offering our best to God and those we serve. But Jesus said to his disciples in Mark 6, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest (Mark 6:31).” It is my joy and privilege to commend to you the Walt Crow Center for Pastors as such a “quiet place to get some rest.” God Bless You!

Dr. Steve Brant, Retired Elder UMC

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