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If Attacked by an Anaconda – Don’t Panic

Church health is dependent upon the health of the pastor and its leadership.  If leaders are going to help people follow Jesus more closely and deeper then they must be setting the example for them to follow.  In Leading on Empty Wayne Cordeiro says, “Wisdom and understanding are not built in a day, however they are built daily.”  Your daily walk with God must be consistent to show others how to develop an intimacy with God.  Cordeiro goes on to say, “We don’t forget that we are Christians.  We forget that we are human, and that one oversight can debilitate the potential for our future.”  

The ministry is not easy!  It is a calling, a privilege, very rewarding and a blessing beyond description but it is not easy.  When consulting with pastors and training church planters I always remind them, “you are in trouble if you are in the ministry.”  C. H. Spurgeon said, “The ministry is a matter which wears the brain and strains the heart, and drains out the life of a man if he attends to it a he should.”  The devil places a big bull’s eye on you when you surrender to God’s calling on your life.  H. B. London, in his book Pastors at Greater Risk, shares the following statistics about pastoral ministry.

  • 80 percent believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively
  • 90 percent felt they’re inadequately trained to cope with ministry demands
  • 80 percent say they have insufficient time with their spouse
  • 70 percent do not have someone they consider a close friend
  • 75 percent report they’ve had a significant stress-related crisis at least once in the ministry

If you are in ministry you are in over your head and without God’s help you will not make it.  I was listening to Brad Faulk share about his work as a church planter in Pasco, WA, and how he felt overwhelmed by the task before him.  He had found a copy of a 1974 Peace Corp manual that described what to do if you were attacked by an anaconda snake.  See if you can relate?

1. If you are attacked by an anaconda, do not run. The snake is faster than you are.

2. Lie flat on the ground. Put your arms tight against your sides, your legs tight against one another.

3. Tuck your chin in.

4. The snake will come and begin to nudge and climb over your body.

5. Do not panic.

6. After the snake has examined you, it will begin to swallow you from the feet and – always from that end. Permit the snake to swallow your feet and ankles. Do not panic.

7. The snake will now begin to suck your legs into its body. You must lie perfectly still. This will take a long time.

8. When the snake has reached your knees slowly and with as little movement as possible, reach down, take your knife and very gently slide it into the side of the snake’s mouth between the edge of its mouth and your leg. Then suddenly rip upwards, severing the snake’s head.

9. Be sure you have your knife.

10. Be sure your knife is sharp.

Maybe the part I like the most is being told twice, “Do not panic!”  Anyone in ministry very long can relate to that except the difference might be, “we did panic!”  We forgot our knife or our knife was not sharp or we tried to outrun the snake.  When the trials of ministry started maybe we never questioned our calling or thought about quitting but somewhere along the way what was once a joy became a load that drained us.  If not careful you can easily get caught up in fixing everyone else’s problems and not take the time to replenish your own soul.  We must discover ways  to refuel and restructure our lives so that we will run the race well and finish well!