I am sitting in my office as I write this. Yes, I know it’s Monday and I usually don’t come to the office on Monday. Yes, I also realize that it is Labor Day. I came over here to read and write with no distractions. Robin is out shopping with another lady from church and the kids have the day off from school. I do plan to take them out for ice cream in a bit but I needed some time to myself so that I can get some things done today. I don’t know that I will accomplish everything I had hoped to accomplish today, but I have gotten some writing done and that’s good enough. I also started reading a friend’s book with the intent of having a review up in the next couple of days. We’ll see how that goes.
I also worked in the church website and tidied up the office a bit. While doing those two things I began thinking about my preaching. I don’t consider myself a great preacher. Most of the time I am competent and that is probably being nice. I absolutely despise listening to myself but I have begun doing that now that I am recording the sermons and posting them online. I cringe with every “uh” and “ah” and shake my head when I think about how “country” I sound. I guess that isn’t too big of a deal because I AM a country preacher. Even though I am in the north, I am still in a small, rural church. I am fine with that. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I came here. I fit this. I believe that God has gifted me to serve in just such a congregation.
As I said, I believe I am a competent speaker. I have only been doing this (as a full time guy) for about two years. I did have a six month run as an interim back during my last year of Bible college but this is my first full time located ministry. Even though I am 45 and have a lot of life experiences, I’m still very much a rookie when it comes to doing this. I am learning things as I go and there are times when I honestly feel as if I’m making them up. In just about two months I will celebrate two years here at Granville Center Church of Christ. In that time I think I have delivered some really good sermons. I have also delivered some stinkers. I guess that’s something that all preachers experience so I shouldn’t be too upset. However, I have always been over critical of myself and I still suffer from low self-esteem from time to time. When you add the two negative ministry experiences I went through into the equation…well…let’s just say that I worry sometimes.
I know that may sound silly to some of you, but I have a feeling that many of you know exactly what I’m talking about. I will say this, I do receive a lot of positive feedback from the folks here. I am blessed to serve with three elders who legitimately care about me and are willing to help me get better. I’m not scared to ask them for their feedback. I am also blessed to have a wife who is willing to do the same thing. It’s not like I don’t get constructive criticism. However, when you have self-esteem issues (as I sometimes do) it’s hard not to take compliments and wonder if they are sincere. I don’t always do this, mind you, but it does happen occasionally.
I really am trying to let go of things like that. I really am. It’s hard though. Most people probably wouldn’t guess that I have self-esteem issues or that I struggle with depression connected with them. I do. It’s not as serious as what many go through but it is very real. I am extremely hard on myself and sometimes have trouble letting go. I am able to forgive others but I struggle with forgiving myself. Grace is such a tricky thing sometimes. I know that we have it through the blood of Jesus. I know that. I don’t mind granting it to others but when it comes to the face looking back at me from the mirror, well, that’s a different story.
Perhaps you’re surprised that a minister (pastor/preacher/whatever) would confess that. If you are then let me let you in on something (and this isn’t meant sarcastically), we’re human too. We mess things up. We have to fight the same demons that everyone fights. Sometimes we lose. I guess that’s why I like Peter and Paul so much. Peter was the king of flip-flopping. One minute he’s making a great statement of faith and the next, Jesus is calling him Satan. Paul? He went from being the guy who murdered Christians in the name of God to one of the men responsible for spreading the gospel across the known world. If God can look at those two and use them in spite of their issues. Well, maybe, just maybe, He will use me as well.