I’ve been listening the past few days to the Sovereign Grace Leadership Interview series with Josh Harris, CJ Mahaney, and Jeff Purswell. Frankly, I’m having a hard time of it. CJ keeps strongly asserting things that I just don’t believe with.
We’ll slide over the first interview, on The Pastor and His reading, where I had to stop and shout “What planet are you on?” over the general agreement everybody had that it takes careful scheduling to make sure that you get enough time in for reading. Seriously? Next they’ll remind me to make space for food.
The one that’s really getting to me now is The Pastor and His Soul, in which CJ Mahaney insists that I am directly, morally, responsible for the way I feel. I’ve always been of the opinion that feelings sometime present me with useful information, but that they’re just as likely to lie to me about the way things are. CJ tells pastors that if, over a period of time, they detect that their passion, their devotion to Christ is flagging, they need to take immediate and sometimes drastic action. Clear away hours in your schedule, study books and bible verses that have the appropriate effect on the way you feel. Find some way to adjust the way you feel about Jesus, immediately.
Two thoughts, off the top of my head –
- What about the “Dark night of the soul?” What about dry times? What about people who aren’t so blessed with strong happy emotions. Sometimes you’re just not feeling it. Some people are just preternaturally depressed. Am I guilty because I don’t feel devoted enough?
- Secondly, I know that this series is devoted to pastors, and there’s an imperative to pastors to make space in their schedule for devotions. That’s a privilege that pastors have. But if there’s a moral imperative to feel a certain way the predominant amount of the time, and if I can get that feeling right if I just spend enough time in prayer and reading the right kind of books, what does that say to the layman? “My pastor gets to feel a certain way because he gets to spend enough time in his prayer closet. Me, I don’t have that time at my disposal. I guess I’m just a second class Christian”?