Friday, November 4th. 1 Peter 5:1-6

Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it —not for sordid gain but eagerly. Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away. In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for

      “God opposes the proud,

      but gives grace to the humble.”

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 1 Peter 5:1-6

 

Here is what it is like to write these devotions in the morning.  First, I know I have a deadline.  If it isn’t done by 9:00 am then it won’t make the daily email batch and you will end up not receiving it the day it is written AND you will receive two the next day.  It will then be obvious to you that I didn’t get it done on time and I’ll already know it and I would have been fretting about it since yesterday morning when I missed the deadline in the first place.

 

Plus, lots of you will write to me and point out what I already know.  I missed the deadline and you didn’t get Tuesday’s devotion until Wednesday when you received both Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s on the same day.  I failed you and I know it.

 

Second, I get up in the morning, I read the text for the day, and then I take it with me to the back yard for some quiet time.  I sit.  I pray.  I think.  I try to find connections in the text to our lives today.  I follow the old rule we were all taught in speech class 101, “when all else fails, talk about personal experience.”  That is a painful rule for a pastor.

 

In seminary, at least when I was in seminary, we were expressly forbidden to ever talk about personal experience.  I’ll never forget Sheldon Tostengaard telling us in his heavy Norwegian brogue, “Believe me, your children will never be as interesting to your congregation as they are to you.”  Which puts us between a rock and a hard place.

 

We can’t talk about our personal experience without a degree of guilt but then we read the letters of the Apostle Paul and see him regularly referring to himself, his conversion experience, and his dealings with other Christian communities.  What are we supposed to do?

 

I choose to follow the advice of Luther, “Sin boldly and believe more boldly still.”  So my time in the back yard always looks for life connections and I let my life play too.

 

Which eventually brings me back to this text from 1 Peter.  This is a hard text for me to read as a pastor.  For it is written by a pastor to a pastor with advice about how pastors are supposed to fulfill their callings.

 

I would love to say that I show up for work every day willingly and eagerly and humbly.  (I actually would prefer to do my job without accepting a salary from the congregation but, unlike Rick Warren and Max Lucado, I write for free and haven’t published anything, let alone a world-wide best seller for which I earn millions of dollars.)  I would love to say all of that (including the world-wide best seller part) but, quite frankly, being a pastor is a hard job.  It might not be hard physically but it wrenching emotionally and spiritually.  Sometimes I feel much closer to Sisyphus, eternally pushing his rock uphill, then Jesus.  And then I bring all of that home to Kelley.  (You don’t want to be Kelley.)

 

I could say that “I try to be humble” but the truth is that far more often I say or do dumb things where, like it or not, I end up having been humbled.  I doubt I’m alone in that – rare is the pastor who doesn’t sometimes turn into the parking lot of the church without asking why God doesn’t show more grace to the wonderful people of that congregation and send them a pastor more effective, more worthy, more like the pastor they deserve.

 

So let today’s devotion be my confession as we head together into All Saint’s Sunday.  To me, All Saint’s Sunday will always be a Christian pep rally, a time when the cracked clay jars who have gone before us cheer us on from heaven, for they know that this life we lead isn’t easy.  Let today’s devotion be a reminder that all of us are but saints and sinners – we sometimes do the best we can, we sometimes fall very short, and most of the time we are just trying to make a deadline.

 

Let us pray:  Dear Jesus, we come to you today with empty hands, knowing there is nothing we have to give you but only to receive.  Thank you for your love, your sacrifice to end all sacrifice, your promise of eternal life.  Thank you for using common things like water, bread, wine, and people, to do uncommon, extraordinary and life transforming miracles.  Thank you for the people with whom we have shared our lives, who now wait for us with you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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13 Responses to “Friday, November 4th. 1 Peter 5:1-6”

  1. Marthe Hildreth Says:

    Thak you, Pastor Kerry, for your devotion and your honesty. There must be many who avidly await what you write, as do I.

  2. Melanie Says:

    As is usually the case in secular schools as well as seminary, professors teach, but life is real. So, I want to thank you for speaking from your heart and sharing with us personal experiences. Because frankly, that’s the best way I learn what God’s Word means to me as a broken person. And it also reminds me that I am not alone on this journey, no one is perfect, and yet we all still receive the unwarranted love of God! Thank you for your dedication, sacrifice, and humanity. In God’s peace…..

  3. Tina Says:

    Pastor Kerry,

    Thank you for connecting life with the scriptures. I miss deadlines sometimes too.

  4. Arnie Walter Says:

    I’ve often wondered what struggle you go through to get these wonderful devotions out. It is probably through the struggle that the light shines the brightest. Even if a devotion you write isn’t the most shining example of spiritual revelation I still appreciate your striving to do your best. God bless you well Pastor Kerry!

  5. Susan Hunt Says:

    Pastor Kerry,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us, I look forward each day to the reading and your comments. When two come on one day, I fail to think “Oh, he was late!” but rather, “A great day, I have two to read!” though I do miss the days without your insights.
    As Hopi believe, perfection is setting yourself up to be God, who is the only perfect being.

  6. Elaine Nesvig Says:

    If we wait a day, then get two, well, that’s great. If your day is busy, and you have to skip a day, that’s o.k. Thank you for all the joy you bring into so many of our lives !!

  7. Marlys Amberg Says:

    Pastor Kerry,
    It is your humbleness and honesty that make you such a great writer, teacher. and pastor. I praise God for all of your efforts to keep us strong and of good courage for this journey.
    May God richly bless you each day!!

  8. Randy Nelson Says:

    Thanks. As an office coordinator of a medium size church, the pastor’s job has extreme tension. I simply write the bulletin in a quiet office while he delivers the service & his sermon every Sunday. Plus funerals, weddings, dinners, hospital visits, retirement home visits & baptisms. Folks are folks and there will always be a few negative congregation members who will find fault in anything about the Pastor. I get no feedback or ‘gnashing of teeth’ on my job & I thank the Lord I didn’t choose to be a Pastor.

  9. Sandra Says:

    Aloha — it is your very humanity that makes your “devotions” so compelling. Mahalo!

  10. Kathy Spennrath-Boor Says:

    Dear Pastor Kerry,

    I feel so fortunate to be a recipient of your devotions and have been on the distribution list for a number of years. I missed your writings when you needed an extended break but certainly understood and was thankful that you did the healthy thing and took care of yourself in that way. I echo Susan’s words about missing a day but being excited to have two the next day! Your words touch my heart and soul and provide information for consideration and contemplation. You have taught me countless lessons and provided — to name just a couple of feelings — humor as well as comfort. I receive a daily reading from Hazelden in addition to your devotions. Today’s is about angels among us. I certainly count you as an angel and hope you count yourself as one, also. Kelley, too, of course and all your family! Shalom and deep thanks…

  11. Joyce Shorek Says:

    I do not care if you miss a deadline. I am so grateful your devotions are back!!

  12. Mary Sohlin Says:

    I think Sandra above said it all. As always the sinner and saint in you makes such an inspirational combination for all of us who are searching for more and more of a relationship with God. You rock.

  13. Paul N Graeber Says:

    Kerry:
    Your devotions are as real as your sermons, and both reveal you as we all are broken, trying to do and say the right thing at the right time. Keep being you and don’t worry about the late thing none of us who follow you and care worry about it.
    May God bless.

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