You ever have that feeling where your stomach is in a knot?
For some of us it’s an all too real feeling. For me, it happens on specific occasions. After becoming an LSU fan, I felt it in the fourth quarter of every football game with Les Miles on the sidelines.
I feel it in every close New England Patriots game, which only intensifies in January. In some cases, I can’t even eat before or during games. I feel it every time I communicate in a large setting. I even feel it sometimes when I call people back on the phone (no judging).
Early last month the feeling arrived but this time in a different scenario than normal. Our lead pastors took their vacation – and for the first time – they were out for three consecutive weeks.
They’ve left in the past, but it was never this long. The moment they left – the feeling came. It was the first time we ever felt the weight and pressure of a lead pastor.
It made me think about Moses and Joshua and the ‘knot in the stomach feeling’ they must’ve felt. Moses literally felt the weight of leading – he saw it in the thousands of eyes constantly watching him. He felt it with the numerous complaints he handled.
The weight was so strong; Moses in frustration told God: “The load is far too heavy! If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!” (Numbers 11:14)
Joshua, who was Moses’ predecessor, grew up watching how people treated Moses. He grew up seeing Moses fail to deliver on the promise and how that was received by the people.
In Joshua 1, God spoke the words “be strong and courageous” three different times to Joshua. The tribes and leaders looked at Joshua moments later and – you guessed it – told Joshua to be “strong and courageous.”
You know what that tells me? Joshua was most likely worried about the task at hand. I’m sure at this point he had the weight and pressure of being the head leader for the first-time. He needed God and others to affirm him and speak over him that he would be strong and courageous.
The weight and pressure of leading is very real.
You wouldn’t typically read a blog where a lead pastor wrote about this topic because it’s almost self-serving – it’s like saying, “hey, come look at all the pressure on my shoulders.”
But, we can talk about it from the other side with some real-time experience that will help all staff members and church attendees gain a fresh perspective. Here’s three experiences we encountered when our leads pastors were gone.