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It was a typical Sunday morning at First Baptist Church. People were arriving for the Bible Study hour and greeters were handing out bulletins. People were smiling and laughing; greeting each other with sincere handshakes and warm hugs. Members and visitors alike seemed to find joy in the prospect of another opportunity for worship and fellowship.
On the outside, I was exhibiting the same joy but on the inside . . . my soul was troubled. I had been awake most of the night and into the early morning. My physical and mental fatigue paled in comparison to the spiritual and emotional distress I was feeling.
The night before, just after midnight, I was awakened by a phone call from a family who was marginally associated with the church. With a trembling voice, the mother told me their oldest son was in a terrible accident, and had been rushed to the hospital. They did not know what to do, so they called me. At the hospital I spent time with this family, praying and consoling, while the medical staff attended to their son. As the clock in the waiting room displayed 2:00 am, the doctor entered to share the news that their son had died.
The next hour or so was spent with this family, helping them deal with this sudden and heart-wrenching loss. I hurt along with them as I too was touched by the magnitude of their grief.
Now, on Sunday morning, just a few hours removed from the events of the night, I greeted worshipers and listened to their stories – even though I had difficulty releasing the images of a grieving family. I tried to focus on the Bible study lesson I was about to give and the sermon I would deliver later. Quietly, I was still wrestling with my own grief and uncertainty about my experience during the night.
In the worship service that morning, I shared briefly about this tragedy. The congregation responded with sorrow and compassion, but none could really comprehend what the circumstance had required of me as I offered hope and care to the devastated family.
After the service, in the quietness of the empty worship center, I was reminded of the words of David from Psalm 142:4 – “Look to the right and see; there is none who takes notice of me . . . no one cares for my soul.”
The events of that night were draining – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I put a lot of time and effort into ministering to this family. And in its wake, at the church that morning, I was the one who craved ministry. I wanted someone to ask how I was doing. I longed for just one person to acknowledge how draining things were for me.
No one really knows what it’s like to minister in the local church setting – except the local church pastor. This story represents just one of a number of times I found myself needing someone to “care for MY soul.” Whether my need was for someone to “rejoice with” or “weep with,” I often looked around and found no one.
Leader Care is a ministry of New Life Counseling – a part of Arizona Baptist Children’s Services. Its purpose is to “Provide Hope and Care to Pastors and Church Leaders.” This page has been designed to enable the local church minister (paid, bi-vocational or volunteer) find resources and personal enrichment for his or her ministry. It is also here to connect the pastor or church leader with a local Leader Care Facilitator who knows what it’s like to serve in a ministry like yours. He is available to come along side and “care for your soul,” through confidential, no cost, Christ-centered care.
I hope you visit this page and contribute to its content often.