[CF Devotionals] 2010-01-30 - Pastor Speak

Exodus 4:10, “Then Moses said to the Lord, ‘Please, Lord, Ihave never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

I was asked to reflect on my role of speaking to people and put it in words. It is a broad topic, and I tried to narrow it some, but I thought I would share this with you. It may or may not interest you, but I am a pastor, and if you ever wanted a window into a pastor giving an honest glance into part of his experience…well, that is what I was asked to do, and here it is.

Obviously I do a lot of speaking. I preach twice a week, lead Sunday School, and Bible study at the church. However, here I will focus some on another area: visitations. I regularly visit with the members of the church. I enjoy my times with them and try to speak into their lives. A regular visitation consists of some chit-chat, reading a passage of Scripture, discussion, prayer, and a little more chit-chat as I try to ease my way out the door. I meet with some every week, and others less often. It is an essential aspect of my ministry of shepherding those God has given me. There is one visitation I struggle with and that is the visitation at the bedside of an unbeliever who is terminal. You might be surprised how often I do this. Four of the funerals I did last year were for unbelievers – two of them I had spent months with. In one case, for the last two weeks of her life, I moved into the home. What do I say? I rack my brain, heart, my very being to know what to say to one who has given God the finger with their whole life, and now stands on the threshold of a face-to-face encounter with Him. I am the last stop for them to minister grace. What do I say?

In all cases I find that I am the one who does the speaking. There is little response. I read passages on Christ’s sacrifice for sin and explain them. I pray quite a lot with them, holding their hand. I find holding the hand important because it reminds them physically that I am there, willing to touch them, and it gives me a gauge – by the strength and consistency of their grip – of how they are responding. I talk a lot about forgiveness in Christ alone. I speak of “whosoever,” and “not forsaking” the worst of sinners. For me, it is never enough. Sometimes a family will call the church and ask me to go pray with/for so-and-so, and I go – in one case I knew the 21yld was drunk, riding on the roof of the car when he fell off. He was a real banger in the community, but his mom is an apostle (yea, an apostle) in one of our neighboring churches, so I went – prayed, talked with the family, and he died the next day. What do I say? What do I conclude about the final state of their soul?

I make no assumptions really. I am a servant in the death-bed visit and in the healthy family visit. I identify the situation and attempt to assess what the immediate needs are. I then hope I can be a vessel through which the Spirit works. I am not trying to sound important here – quite the contrary – because I have learned that no matter what I speak, I cannot change a heart. The Spirit can, and He can use my fumblings to do so. I am accountable for what I say in every type of visiting/speaking I do. In the pastoral role (which I am always in) I am dealing with souls, precious souls, and everything I say is measured. I have learned, especially over the last year, to be quiet. I speak less than I used to speak. I am more guarded. Words have meaning. I also share less about myself with the congregation. It isn’t about me. It is about Jesus and my role is to speak much about the great things that Christ has done and is doing (Ps 40:10). It is not my role to speak about the little things in my life. I remember that Moses was “slow of speech,” (Ex. 4:10) and when I consider how the Lord used him, I know there is hope for me.

Soli Deo Gloria,

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