Years ago my friend David, knowing I like Civil War history, gave me a coffee mug with a painting on it by Mort Künstler entitled, "Steady, Boys, Steady."
It portrays one brigade of Pickett's Charge, the ill-fated bloodbath that was part of the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. The painting shows a long double line of ragtag Confederate soldiers, bayoneted guns resting on their shoulders, marching forward. One man carries their flag. Everything around them is obscured by the smoke of cannons, and there are explosions nearby. Out ahead of them, the focal point of the picture, is Brigade Commander Lewis Armistead. He is perhaps ten feet ahead of his troops. His hat is raised high on the tip of his saber so his troops can see to follow.
In the first frightening months pastoring a new church, I looked at the picture on that coffee mug at least a hundred times. I'd look at Lewis Armistead and think, He must have been frightened, too. But when you are a leader, sometimes you just put your hat on your sword and march into the smoke. Over and over I'd tell myself, Put your hat on your sword and march into the smoke.
The way we pastors deal with the turmoil around us depends on how we deal with the turmoil within us.
Sharing in the Sufferings
The phrase "sharing in the sufferings of Christ" is one that makes many of us uneasy, because we're not sure we do it. We feel a little sheepish putting ourselves in the same category as martyrs. But all growing Christians share in Christ's sufferings. We don't have a choice about it.
Essentially this means that we accept the shame and disgrace of the crucified life for Christ's sake. All that the Lord produces in our lives ...