The Kind of Friend Every Pastor Needs
Question: Pastor, is there anyone you can go to with a serious doubt about the Christian faith?
Let’s say you are struck by contradictions in the Bible. But if you preached these from the pulpit, you would have caused great harm. Psalm 73:15 comes to mind.If I had said, “I will speak thus,” behold, I would have been untrue to the children of your generation.
But you need answers. Where do you turn?
If you have no friend to whom you can turn, there is a serious gap in your life. You are in need of another friend or two or three. We do not mean just any kind of friend.
I prefer to think a real friend would confront you and force you to come to terms with what you have done. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6)
It may come as a surprise to some that preachers of the gospel have our occasional (and persistent) doubts and questions about God, the Bible, and our faith.
I’d like to make three points….
1) There is nothing wrong and everything right with raising questions about God, the Bible, and salvation, or even struggling with doubts so long as we see them through to the finish. God can use this. But if we jump ship the first time we begin to question the faith, if we do not stay around long enough for the answer, it was all for nothing.
In my own life, I have felt the time I spent struggling with a nagging question was like digging a foundation for the structure of faith which the Lord would eventually erect there when the answer came.
The unexamined life, we hear, is not worth living. Likewise, the unexamined message is not worth preaching.
2) The strongest, most effective Christian workers you will ever meet have had their struggles along these same lines. The enemy will try to keep that news from you.
Doubt can be so egotistical. You feel no one has ever questioned this before, that you have uncovered the Achilles’ heel of the gospel. Not so. There is nothing new under the skeptical sun, friend.
In fact, the best counselors you could possibly find struggled the way you are, but they kept searching until they found answers and peace.
3) One of the best things you can do for yourself is to consult those more mature friends and lay your questions on the table. Hold nothing back.
Do not be surprised if they fail to get excited and worry about you. You might even noticing them smiling. “Been there, done that,” one will say to you. And that’s when you begin to feel normal again.
You can get through this. And when you do, you’ll be stronger than ever.
Dr. Joe McKeever is a Preacher, Cartoonist, and retired Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.
Graphic provided by Clint Doggett.