Shortly after completing my university education, I began my first experience serving as a full-time associate pastor. Excitement permeated my life as God had allowed me to serve Him in such a role. While serving at the church, I was given the privilege of attending seminary. And if that was not enough to keep my schedule full, I was also married and had a young child.
Christian education was my major assignment at the church. I had been trained for years to be a good minister of Christian education. All the resources and tools available to a leader were in my library. While I was thankful that this assignment was mine, those people just did not realize how helpful I could be to them. Immaturity was present in my life, but only recognized by others; not me!
Assignments in seminary, church, and at home were in abundance, but I was a hard worker and enjoyed doing the things I had been trained to do. However, I was quite amazed that the members of the congregation did not appreciate all that I COULD do to help them grow in their Christian education. During the first year of service I had mapped out a plan to help completely reorganize our Bible study structure, beginning with senior adults! That is when I discovered the truth of the Scriptures which state, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12). Death seemed to be the easy way out of dealing with “those” people down at “that” church!
Severe headaches, a twitching eye, and sleepless nights began to dominate my life. I could not sit still. Worry continually stirred my mind. Months went by with these symptoms that would not let me rest. Finally, I made a decision to see a doctor. My head ached so much that all I could discern was that I must have a brain tumor.
The appointed time came for me to see the doctor. He was a godly man who was a member of another church in the community. Sharing the details of my situation was embarrassing to me. As I tried to convince the doctor that I had a severe physical problem, the examination began. He looked into my eyes, listened to my heart, took my blood pressure, and performed all the other exam essentials. After the physical examination the doctor asked me a question I had not expected. He asked, “What is going on in your life as a pastor?”
It did not take me long to explain to him how those people down at that church were treating me. After all, they hired me to lead their Christian education departments and now they would not do what I asked them to do!
After hearing my complaints for a few minutes the doctor said he had good news for me. I thought, “Great!” He said he had two prescriptions for me that would help and that I could choose which one to take. Willing and ready, I asked what they were. He said, “First, I have tranquilizers that will help you calm down. The other choice is that you can go back to your church and find a place to get alone with God. Then, repent to God for not depending on Him to provide joy and peace in the midst of a difficult situation.”
Advice like that is never pleasant to hear but sometimes is necessary. I left the office and went back to the church. I went upstairs and found a small room where no one but God would hear me. Crying out to God, I admitted that I had sinned. Repentance toward God was my cure. Within a few days, my symptoms were gone! What a shock!
The bottom line? Joy comes to a repentant heart. (Taken from The Joy of Repentance Workbook)