By Ron Cook

Ron and his wife Rodetta have been married for 41 years. They have actively served the Lord together in ministry during the entire time and are co-founders of Care for Pastors. Ron ministers to hundreds of pastors annually through mentorship, counseling, and by phone. He has been a Pastor for 40 years and understands the stress of ministry, and wants to share his longevity in ministry with other pastors and help them finish well.

    Can Do Vs. Can’t Do

    Wednesday, July 19, 2023

    By nature we tend to spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on things we can’t do—good things, but things, situations, people, and circumstances that are beyond our ability to change. Things that only God can change. People will only change when they choose to change, all beyond our human ability to make it happen. Yet we find ourselves investing time and energy into things we can’t do which results in bondage. We know this and yet we allow the enemy to implant the idea that if we just try harder we can make it happen.

    However, when our time, energy, and efforts are focused on the “Can do” of life it results in freedom. I can’t make a person change their lifestyle. I can’t make a person stop destructive choices and habits. I can’t make reconciliation of marriage and families take place. I can’t make a person receive God‘s great gift of salvation. I must focus on what I “can do.” What I can do is hold God’s truth in front of them, which as a follower of Christ is my responsibility. Then leave the changes that need to take place up to the individual and God‘s Holy Spirit. I can extend love, grace, and forgiveness but I cannot make it be received. In Romans 12:9-21 Paul gives us an extensive list of can do’s.

    Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God‘s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another do not be proud that be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, and leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written it is mine to avenge I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this you will keep burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:9-21 (NIV)

    Can’t Do = bondage

    Can Do = freedom

    This filter will greatly help the minor wounds of life from becoming major life challenges.

    This is written to speak to the great challenges pastors face in ministry, but the truths of this are applicable to every area of life, ministry or business, family or friends.

    If you are reading this as a church member, or a person in a leadership position in the church, please be aware of the enormous pressure your pastor is under to say “Yes” to every good thing resulting in little or no time and energy to say “Yes” to what is best. That is caring for his or her soul and time to invest in their family. Unrealistic expectations, self-imposed or imposed by others, put pressure on the pastor to focus on the “can’t do’s” rather than on the “can do’s.”

    None of this is new information to most of you reading this; it’s certainly not new for the pastors reading this. Sometimes in the busyness of life and ministry we forget the importance of the basics. For example, you have a star baseball player that begins the season with RBIs off the chart. Almost every time he gets up to bat he knocks it out of the park. He is just a natural, great baseball player. Midway through the season he is in a slump striking out more than getting a hit. Three-fourths of the way into the season he can’t hit the ball at all, so the batting coach is called in to review the field. The coach and player sit down, the coach says, “You haven’t lost your ability, but you have gotten away from the basics. You are taking your eye off the ball and you are not swinging level. Go back to the basics.”

    Pastors, you have to set boundaries. It is very likely if you don’t set boundaries no one else will. Do you make time to care for yourself? We make time for what is important. The real question for self-care is what can you do? What is realistic for you? The tendency is we recognize a problem and then go to the extreme, setting up unrealistic self-expectations. Only days into attempting these, we sink back into old patterns, more discouraged than ever. The enemy boldly condemns you for your lack of commitment. If he can’t condemn you with lies he will condemn you with the truth. What can you do to make soul care a priority? What good things do you need to say “No” to in order to say “Yes” to the best?

    Help us continue providing resources of care for pastors and their families.

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