I recently attended the home-going/funeral of my dear Aunt Lillian Reed. She was truly a precious woman of God who suffered greatly physically and endured many other challenges in life, but lived triumphantly with a spiritual and psychological strength that very few possess.
I was so glad to see many family and friends at this occasion that I hadn’t seen in quite a while. Among my wonderful loved ones I hadn’t seen in years was a cousin whom God blessed to achieve the optimal academic benchmark and then be favored to teach at one of the nation’s prestigious historically Black colleges. By the way, Dr. Shaun Fletcher, we are godly proud of you.
So, this incredibly astute cousin and I are talking while waiting to go in the church and he said, “You pastor two churches -- wow what a blessing!” My reaction humorously spewed forth unimpeded like the same knee-jerk reaction you have when the doctor hits your knee and it straightens out. I responded with a flurry of humor-ridden negatives, requested prayer, and ended with “Man, but I’m optimistic.” He answered with a smile on his face, “Yeah, I can see.” From that moment on I have pondered our brief conversation. Incidentally I want to say thanks, cousin, because your statement, my answer, and your response provoked a series of thought-provoking, self-introspective reflections.
First of all, I’m grateful to be called by God to pastor multiple churches. When you have the assignment, which I believe can only come from God to pastor people, it indicates that God trusts you. The problem with most of us is that we become so consumed with surviving and the daily grind that comes with working, until we lose sight of how blessed we are. The rigors of traveling between two churches had worn me down. I drive 11-12 hours roundtrip weekly to one church. Both ministries are starter churches which are operating with minimal finances and limited resources. Imagine dealing with this while trying to sustain my own family of four. My assignment didn’t feel like a blessing. Honestly at times, it has been very difficult.
I marveled at his statement because in my opinion he has a great job, which I thought was incredible and he says I’m blessed. I would have accepted that I was blessed because of my relationship with God, but in that moment it was hard to comprehend that being a pastor of two churches was a blessing because of the load I was carrying.
The spirit of God spurred me into deep self-examination. While I feel like I must work harder and necessity is laid upon me at this time to do what I am doing, the real question is am I going about this the right way? Whenever we are doing something we know in our hearts we were meant to do but we aren’t enjoying it, that is usually an indication that maybe our approach is wrong.
In reminiscing on recent difficult moments in my life it poses the question -- can a person feel good living in a pressure cooker daily? Is a person wrong for focusing on their problems daily with the sincere intent of finding solutions? What’s the key to doing what you love to do and yet overcome the challenges that go along with it? It’s lunch time, but I’ve got more in Part 2. Chicken wings, here I come!!!