July 2018

July 2018

What Makes Your Pastor Happy?

Something that my classmates and I repeatedly heard in seminary was that when we got out to the parish, one of the most important keys to success was to “love our people.” That’s good advice, as long as it is always understood that real love means laboring for the eternal wellbeing of the beloved, not just doing what they want at the moment. I can honestly say that I love the people entrusted to my care (that’s you). I want what Jesus says is best for you. And because I love you, you are capable of making me very happy.

I love it when you are happy. I rejoice along with you, as long as you are happy for godly reasons. But your present happiness is not the main thing that makes me happy.

I love it when you respect me as your pastor. It makes me feel good personally, but far more than that, it shows me that you have respect for the Christ who sent me as your pastor. But your respect for me is not the main thing that makes me happy.

I love it when you support me. It lifts me up and encourages me when you do things that show you have my best interests at heart. It’s good for my family, too! But your support is not the main thing that makes me happy.

So what is the main thing you can do that makes me happy?

The main thing you can do to make me happy is show me your hunger and thirst for the Word of God.

That hunger and thirst may reveal itself when you ask me to be present with you at a surgery or medical procedure. It may reveal itself when you come to me for private counsel because something of eternal significance is truly weighing on you. It reveals itself when you lovingly criticize me because you are worried that I am not teaching quite as Jesus would have me teach. It reveals itself when you bare to me your anxieties and misgivings as you confront the reality of sin and death around you. It reveals itself when you are willing to be honest with me about your weaknesses, your failures, and your desperate needs of soul and spirit—and about my own weaknesses and failures, too.

Why does that make me happy? It’s not because you are weak or sinful or needy, and it’s certainly not because you are experiencing anxiety and distress. It’s because those needs reveal to me very clearly that for you, the Word of God is real. What I do as a pastor really matters. The Christian faith is not just a bedtime story we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better for a while. It’s a confrontation with sin and death that has real, everlasting consequences. It is our eternal salvation in Christ Jesus, and He has given me a role in securing that salvation for you.

If you want to make me really happy, bring me your problems. Ask of me what Jesus has promised to give you through your pastor: the living Word of God. Join me in seeking from God what only He can give. Be honest about your doubts and misgivings and anxieties so that together we can confront them in Jesus’ name.

A lot of things about you make me happy. But chief among them is when you show me that you are a sincere child of God who draws your life from Jesus Christ and Him alone. And in that sense, I sincerely hope I make you happy too.


Pastor Neuendorf