The gospel doesn’t ignore death but defeats it. Our culture likes to minimize, medicate, and throw up a mist before the pain of death. We temper the language and try to forget about its reality. But the truth of the matter is that our hearts are the main instruments in our own funeral parade. When the instruments stop, the parade ends and we are lowered into the ground. This is reality. Don’t ignore it. Treasure the truth that Christ truly conquered death. Because of his powerful triumph believers may even, like Paul, mock its hold (1 Cor. 15.54-55).
I remember spending some time with a minister who was nearing retirement. He was cleaning out his office and packing up boxes, books, and other personal items. He directed me to a large box and told me to take a look. I saw dozens and dozens of manilla file folders with names on them.
“What are all these?” I asked.
“Funerals.” The pastor said.
“How many?” I inquired.
“More than 200.” He soberly replied.
There in his office, I was hit with so many emotions. Here was a man who has buried more than 200 of his parishioners. And here I stood, a young-buck having buried a grand total of zero of our members.
The seasoned pastor went on to tell me that he cannot throw this box away because in every folder is a life.
“In every folder is a life, a soul. And in each one is a piece of my life.” He said, holding back obvious emotion. I almost lost it too.
It seems wise for all pastors to think about this. But even more, it’s important for younger pastors to consider. Here are a couple of thoughts:
- Pastors have a unique privilege (responsibility) to care for people through all areas of life (birth, marriage, and death). We are there to celebrate, counsel, instruct, protect, console, and grieve. All the while we are to faithfully represent God and his Word. There is no escape from this type of intensity. When we are called we must come in and speak God’s Word.
Application: Pastors must rejoice in and faithfully engage the duty of being a steward.