Occasionally everyone encounters a tidbit of information which is nothing short of priceless in its simple wisdom. As a young pastor I was given just such a treasure. I do not remember if it came from a book or a more experienced pastor, but it has served me well. Here it is, “the previous pastor is neither as good nor as bad as others tell you.”
In the churches I have served, there were always those who really loved the previous pastor and others who did not. That advice has prevented me from thinking the pastor who preceded me was a saint who somehow lived on a level far above me, and it has also prevented me from focusing on the mistakes my predecessor made. It helped me realize those who preceded me are… well as human as I am. Some members in each of my churches considered me a better pastor than I was, while I seemed unable to please others regardless of what I did.
My crumb of wisdom has helped me in more than just my position as pastor. I have come to appreciate its value in dealing with others in widely varied situations. Each of us may have the same thing said about us, because we are all a combination of good and bad.
I love God and people; however, I must admit my motives are sometimes less than perfect. There is a regular struggle inside me. Part of me wants to be godly, while another part of me merely wants to look godly. I hate to admit it, but both are part of who I am.
Even though I may not have met you, I know the same is true of you. You are better and worse than others think. You sometimes surprise yourself by how good you can be, while at other times you are frustrated by your inability to live up to your own standards.
Even the Apostle Paul understood this struggle, here is how he described it, “What an awful person I am. Who will deliver me from this struggle with death? Thanks to God...” (Romans 7:24-25, My paraphrase)
The refreshing truth I discover in scripture is that even when I am less than I should be, I am loved by a God who wants to help me become more than I am. I know you are better than some think, however, if you are completely honest, you know you could be better. Perhaps you are ready to let God help you. When you ask God for forgiveness you will discover he is ready to meet you where you are and offer you a fresh start. In this life you and I will never be perfect, but with his help we can become a better version of ourselves than we could ever dream.