Having time off has given me the luxury of spending time with family that I otherwise would not have been able to do had we still been in NYC. I spent a week in Los Angeles with my mom and my brothers Phil and Steph (and their lovely families), and Tina and I have also been in Houston spending time with her parents and Tina’s brother David and his family.
Thankfully, we’ve been able to stay in these places rent-free, which is nice. I try to pay back their kindness by helping move stuff and washing dishes, but I’m not a very good worker, I’ve realized. I’ve been learning how to be a more efficient dishwasher in Houston though, thanks to David and his mom.
Anyhow, I thought I’d share two pieces of advice that I’ve heard repeatedly, one from my mother, and the other from my mother-in-law. God has used them both as prophetic sages for me as we discern what’s next.
1) “Pastors need to read the Bible. A lot.” – My mom.
Almost every day my mom was asking me, “How much of the Bible did you read today? Do you know why the blessing by Jacob found in Genesis 49 is so important? Do you know why Terah is an important figure in the Old Testament?”
Her questions were relentless. Almost every time we talked, she would tell me more insights she was gleaning from Scripture, and urged me to love how God speaks through Scripture.
Both amazed and slightly annoyed, I would receive her words as best I could.
And I realize she’s right.
“You cannot stand on your own word,” she says, “you must stand on the Word of God.”
My mom is a wise, awesome woman.
2) “Pastors need to pray. A lot.” – My mother-in-law.
My mother-in-law tells me this almost every day. The rest of the time she’s showing me how to be more effective in my dish-washing.
But of so many other wise words she’s given to me, the ones about prayer have hit me the most. She’s repeatedly asked me to continue to depend on God to remain humble, and that prayer is the best work that I can do as a pastor.
Prayer is the best work I can do.
I like that.
I’m beginning to realize that as a pastor, indulging in prayer and Scripture is NEVER a “waste” of time. It’s always first on the “to-do” list, and nothing gets checked off until this is done.
Pete Scazzero was great at drilling this too (and modeling it), and I admire him greatly for that.
As intentional as I’ve been to focus on these areas of my life (especially the last few months), these words from my mom and mother-in-law have continued to come to me, urging me to press in even more toward whatever God might have for me.
And I’ve learned a profound spiritual lesson throughout my years of life.
God often speaks through moms.
So there you have it. I didn’t even need to go to seminary or work at a church to discover these simple truths:
Pastors should read a lot of Scripture, and pastors should pray a lot.
And for that matter, our lives would all be better off if we read more Scripture and prayed more than we do.