As I write about pastoring, I think of my years in Orlando, FL. The years as youth pastor and the decades as lead pastor. The Sunday morning gatherings, the Wednesday night studies, the events outside, the leadership retreats, the board meetings, the counseling appointments in my office. The hospital visits, the funerals, the weddings. The agreements and the disagreements. The wonderful ideas that didn’t seem so wonderful after a while. The not so wonderful ideas that turned out to be much more wonderful than I originally thought. The books, the conferences, the trends, the retreats. The studies to prepare sermons. The musicals, the visitors, the offerings, the benedictions. The private prayers and the corporate prayers and the family prayers. I recall fellowship group meetings in our home. I remember the guys wandering along side to talk about guy stuff, and the ladies finding their places to talk about whatever it is they talked about. I reflect on staff meetings—the moods, the conversations, the questions, the ideas. I return to those places, those scenes, those moments, as my memory recalls faces, images, offices, songs, meals.
I think and I feel. Pain enters as I ponder disappointments. My head seems to shake as I type the word regret. Wounds—deep and real—that I thought were healed resurface and remind me no therapy can fully remove scars resulting from agape love.
I begin to grin as I mentally hear laughter again from so many miles and years away. Jokes told intentionally and unintentionally, names forgotten, a snake found in the office, meals setting the ambiance of true fellowship, groups on the beach together, and people from various nationalities feeling like family.
While those events occurred outwardly, I was pastoring. I was also facing my inner self. Fortunately, I was able to lead as a follower. People led me to lead. Men mentored me, then urged me to mentor others by serving as a pastor. A sinner, a fallen man, a weak leader, a shepherd caring deeply for his flock—a pastor.
As you lead, who are you following?
Who can you trust?
Who asks you those hard questions?

October is #PastorAppreciationMonth. Write thank you notes. Pray. Speak words of encouragement. And purchase copies of Pause for Pastors to give away as gifts to clergy.