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A pat on the back

I really just wanted a pat on the back.

Several years ago I attended an appreciation luncheon for pastors. I had been to a similar event hosted by the same group the previous year, and I really enjoyed it. The previous year they gave away some nice prizes, and we all left the event feeling encouraged and valued.

I knew the main speaker before the event and I had been looking forward to his encouraging words. As soon as he started his address, I knew that it was going to be a difficult lunch. He began asking us probing questions about our prayer life and our personal relationship with God. He continued pressing us to evaluate sin in our life and called us to turn from our sin. I could not believe it. How could this guy do this to us? I came here to be encouraged not attacked. His assignment was simple. All he had to do was talk about how tough ministry is and let us know that he has been there. He could throw in a few funny stories and everyone would leave happy. The longer he spoke the more uncomfortable I became. What a waste of time. I said a weak prayer and I left the event feeling horrible.

On the inside I was dying because I was holding onto unconfessed sin. The challenge from the luncheon that day continued to grow in my mind and heart until I spent time with God praying for His holiness in my life.

I needed the message that day far more than I realized. I am so thankful that our speaker was faithful to proclaim what God had placed on his heart. As I have thought back about that day, I have wondered how hard it was for him to preach that message. It isn’t easy being a prophet. It is much easier to give everyone a pat on the back.

“One of the greatest motivating factors is the pat on the back, although with some individuals, you have to make the pat a little lower and a little harder.” -John Wooden.

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