(post written by Bobo Newton)
Every week, pastors and ministers are leading and teaching God’s people in various churches. After ten years of ministry and five years of seminary, I have seen many of them trying to lead when they are running on empty. Over the years, I have talked to many pastors that are searching for someone to encourage them or for someone just to minister to them.
Sometimes, being in the ministry can be a lonely place. Many times pastors have no one to confide in. For example, if the pastor or minister is in a difficult situation at the church and they talk to their wife about it, the wife will most likely take her husband’s side, and can become resentful to the people in that situation. The same thing can happen if pastors confide in people in the congregation or the community.
Recently, I talked with the pastor that was struggling with his congregation. He was pouring so much of his time and resources into the church, but was seeing no results. No one seemed to care. No one had any encouragement. No one was catching on to his vision. After talking to his wife about the situation, she tried encouraging him, but she started to become resentful as well. It became slippery slope. He was beginning to lead his church on empty.
The role of the pastor or minister is never easy. There are always sacrifices to be made, but there comes a time when ministers can be leading their people when they are empty inside. If you are a minister, you understand how much time you sacrifice for the cause of Christ. You work 40 to 80 hours a week and sometimes it is not recognized. You give and give and give, until you can give no more. Someone once told me, “It is hard to drive a car when the gas tank is empty.” Many pastors and ministers forget to look at their gas gauge and before they realize it, they are at or close to empty.
In Matthew 4, Jesus was tempted by the devil after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. Jesus was at his most vulnerable state and could have been someone easily persuaded if he was not ready for the temptation. Satan offered him many great worldly things but Jesus refused them. After the temptation, the gospel says, the Angels came and ministered to him. We as ministers must realize, even the son of the living God needs someone to minister to him. The needs of Jesus could have been either physical or spiritual, but either way, they were real. As ministers and pastors of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must be ready to preach the word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2), but we need to check and make sure we are not leading God’s people when we are empty.