I started reading a book today. That’s not surprising for people who know me, that I’m reading a book. But this book is crushing me. This book…it’s like it was written for me. This book is calling me, us who are pastors to a life that is fully human. The name of the book is The Imperfect Pastor. The author is Zack Eswine. I wanna meet this brother.
This book makes it sound like it’s okay to be messed up and deeply flawed. I’m reading this book sitting here and fighting back tears at time because it’s beautiful. It’s about being flawed and God still using you. It’s about our own ambition and where God has you in the moment for his glory.
I was sitting here reflecting on what I was reading. I closed the book and sat it down for a second. Then I picked it back up and that’s when I saw it…
The cover of my copy of the book. I looked at it thinking, ‘Man, whoever designed this kinda did a sloppy job. It looks like there are just blotches of ink on it.’ Then I touched the book cover and that’s when I saw it.
The “ink blotches” were bits of melted chocolate.
Let me explain.
I have two children; two daughters. The oldest is four and the youngest is 14 months old. The youngest, Hattie, loves to get in my office and pull my books off the shelves.
And it makes me so mad. I scold her and take her outside the office and lock the door and she cries and bangs on the door wanting to be near daddy.
She also loves to walk around with cookies and snacks in her hot little sweaty hand. We’ll find her with a cookie and wonder how long she’s been holding it cause it’s all mushy and gross. But you try to take that cookie away from her and there’s going to be a fight.
So Hattie had been in my books again, touching them with chocolate on her little sweaty hands.
My first reaction when I saw this was to criticize the book publisher and my second reaction was to be angry with my daughter. But then the Holy Spirit, God spoke to my heart. He whispered his love for me, in my moment of selfish irritation.
And now the tears are flowing in earnest. Our Father doesn’t mind us coming in his office and pulling books off his shelves. Our Father looks at the chocolate stains on the book and smiles at the joy of having us as his children. Our Father is gracious.
Oh how I long to be more like my Father. Maybe you do too. Pray for me, friends, that I’ll not miss these moments. Pray for me as I pastor that I don’t get so wrapped up in working for God’s glory that I miss the smile of God in the little moments of loving my kids and my wife. Pray for me that I’ll sit in the sweaty chocolatey mess of life and be conformed to the image of my sacrificial Saviour.
I’ll pray the same for you. And we can cry along the way and repent of our foolishness and be welcomed with our Father’s warm embrace.
And I bet he won’t even wipe the chocolate stains off the book.