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Benched

For nearly one year, I have been sitting on the bench.  God, the Sovereign Coach, decided to place me on the sidelines after 40 years of preaching and teaching.  

I preached my last sermon at my previous church on the final Sunday of June 2016.  Since then, I've experienced three hospitalizations, two ambulance rides, a couple of serious illnesses, major weight loss, atrial fibrillation, multiple antiobiotic regimens, home health care from visiting nurses, colon re-section surgery, prescription pain medications, CT scans, X-rays, IV lines, a PICC line, blood tests, nuclear stress test, cardiac ultrasound, and more doctor visits than I can number.  I've visited thousands of people in hospitals during four decades as pastor.  This time, I was the patient.

My health challenges were accompanied by vocational challenges related to my calling as pastor in a church I served for nearly 32 years.  The church leaders and I agreed to separate after months of anguished attempts to reach agreement on the future direction of the church.  In the end, we couldn't agree.  

So, I have been sitting on the ministry bench.  Uncomfortably.  I want to be in the game.  I want to fulfill my calling.  I love preaching and pastoring.  But if the Coach says, "PB, take a seat," you sit down whether you like it or not.  

Looking at ministry from the bench has been intriguing.  I've been observing the game without playing.  I have a few observations that might relate to some of you who are benched right now:

  1. Coach has the final word about who plays and who sits.
  2. We are surprised to find ourselves on the bench, but Coach isn't surprised at all.
  3. Coach loves all His players, even the benched ones.
  4. Being benched isn't necessarily punitive.
  5. Coach has a game plan that nobody else understands.
  6. I trust the Coach.

I'm hoping to get off the bench soon.  But that isn't my decision.  I ask the Coach every day whether I can go back into the game.  He sees me sitting on the bench, leaning forward, and itching to get back in the action.  But only when He says, "Hey PB, you're up," will I jump off the bench and get back to my calling.  I'd appreciate your prayers for wisdom and patience. #NotDoneYet

 

Comments

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Esther

I am benched in different way. No longer am I pastor's wife, ministry partner, loving wife. With the death of my Bob after we had just been at our new church for 5 months, I was benched. I, too, trust the Coach. Never doubted for a minute He knew exactly what He was doing, and He had my best interest at heart. Days are long when you are on the bench, but I am learning to use the time wisely: walking with the Savior.

Anna

1 Peter 1:6-8 (ESV)

"6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory."

Irma Edwards

I, too, am on the bench. My story is different. Our ministry was to senior adults. God used my husband to share the good news of the gospel with retirees that for the most part had never attended church throughout their lives. Eight years ago Dave was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. I have watched his struggles with this horrible disease and I struggle with "why".
I know God has a plan, I know He is in control, but I am struggling and my heart is broken!

Pat Meurs

I have been benched for only a month with arthritis pain/hospitalization. "What I have thought a loss for me has been a gain for Christ" (my paraphrase i

Cindy Gawin

You have an amazing ministry as people have watched your godly response to some very hard testing.. You have encouraged others to endure as they have watched your life. May the Lord bless and strengthen you. I can't wait to see what His plans for you are!

Pamela

Good to hear from you Pastor Bill know that you're in our prayers.

Pamela

We sure miss you and you're in our prayers

Steve Fisher

Hi Bill,
Since your invitation to Foothills 25 years ago my life has not been the same! I love you for that. You have been and will be an inspiration to thousands or maybe millions of people. Keep that in your heart and mind. I will continue to pray for your health and Gods path for you.
YBIC
Steve Fisher

Phil

God's plan for our lives doesn't always match up with our expectations. We can plan, dream, hope and even work towards our own plan but as scripture tells us, we can plan but God directs. I too have seen and experienced things in my life that had me questioning what God was doing. While not having health issues myself, I have been at my wife's side while she has gone through so many heart issues over the years. Sometimes I have felt abandonment by God but in the end, if I felt that abandonment, it was I who moved away from Him not He from me. He has always been faithful. Life as a Christian is a journey and we can look at it as exciting or dreary. It's our choice.

Michael doucet

Time for us is a unit of measure that feeds, controls, and sets our emotion. Not only does it control how we plan our day, but how we look at the future. One thing I have learned in miriad of strife and joy. Is that God is always on time. His clock is a perfectly set pocket watch. He checks it always at the precise moment required. His actions are never early or delayed, just perfect. Our Lord is the perfect keeper of time. Hang in there Bill, your sermons not only taught me what I know, but guided me like the perfectly placed compass.

Matt Thomson

I wonder if you're playing a different position? As skilled of a preacher as you are, some like me are more impacted by the written word. You're a skilled writer as well, and you may reach some through this medium who you weren't able to in preaching. Not a word from God, just my musings.

Cindy Galbaugh

Pastor Bill,
My husband and I have always enjoyed your preaching. After listening to your sermons we would always leave the church feeling blessed that we have a savior watching over us. My husband has also had many health issues but things are good now and we know it is because the Lord is with us. Thank you for your commitment to your sheep and your undying love and trust in our Lord.

Our best wishes for you and Jan in the future. I know the Lord has Great plans for you. Look at what he has already done.

Blessings,
Cindy

Mark Morarie

Praying for you! Sure appreciated sitting under your teaching while attending a long time ago. God is at work all around and we have moved on from a church we called home for over 25 years just last month. We've begun to attend a new fellowship and I too am waiting for the opportunity to use my spiritual gift. Thanks for being so transparent.

Carrie

Benched or not, Pastor Bill keeps on teaching us! Trust, Patience (which is NOT a virtue I was blessed with!), Love, Faith -- all so important. Pastor Bill, you are an wonderful example of all of these to those that love, look up to, and follow your teachings of our God. It may be a new and different venue, but you are still our Pastor and we learn from everything you do. Always praying for you and Jan. We love our Pastor and his amazing wife!

Galen Call

Bill, thanks for sharing these powerful words and insights. As several comments show, there are multiple ways of "benching"...and I'm there, too. It's not what I was expecting in this season of life, but you're right--the Coach knows what He's doing and we've learned through life that He is worthy of our trust. I've also discovered there's work to do while benched. Nothing is wasted.

Dr. Christopher Faria

As Henri Nouwen wrote we are the wounded healers. I think many are going to try to say something along the lines of "it will get better," or, "God has something greater in store for you." I don't think that is always the case. I look at the Apostle Paul, longing to go to Spain to preach the gospel (Rom.15:24, 28). Some say that he made it. Others say he languished in a Roman prison only to be beheaded outside the walls in Roman. It was Dr. Bryan Chapell who wrote that God does bless us with positive things, but also sometimes he blesses us with adversity. When I was told I had to retire from the Army Chaplaincy, then found myself without a pulpit for the first time in over 20 years, I was in tears. Why would God give me this gift and passion and no place to use it? Add on top of that two back surgeries, constant pain, then three more surgeries. The recovery time plowed deep furrows in my soul that seeded God's grace to me. Someone in our church plant (which followed the retirement) asked me, "Why would a good God lead you through so much pain?" My reply: "I don't know, but God is good." He wanted and wants me to learn grace. I have no idea what he wants you to learn. But we are the wounded healers of THE Wounded Healer.

Vaughn

PB, I was so happy when I attended your church as a visitor with my daughter Leslie and son in law Chris. I left knowing that Leslie was in a biblically sound church and had a pastor who was not afraid to preach the truth of the gospel. I am living in Pennsylvania and would watch your sermons on FHBC website. So inspiring! I've been praying with you this past year as you went thru these attacks and standing with you daily. Praying in Jesus name!

Mark nieman

Hey brother Bill,
The word "benched" is not the best accurate word, how about temporarily reasigned. The Coach does know the right calls all the time even at third base with two outs and the hitter has no rbi's to his credit! Love you man. I think our birthdays match.. in Kentucky. Brother Mark

Rich and Cheryl

When we moved to CO in 2008 we couldn't find a church we liked for a couple years until a friend recommended FH and the amazing Pastor Bill. We looked forward to hearing your sermons every Sunday from that point on until we moved to WY in 2014.

We returned back to CO last year and resumed attending FH but were distressed to hear about your health issues and prayed for you to return to good health and were looking forward to your return. We were terribly diasspointed when we heard the announcement you weren't.

We've been following your twitter feed and are pleased you're blogging now. We are big fans and are
looking forward you your posts and hope Coach will put you in again as we'd live to hear you preach again.

We are praying for you and your wife, who we hope is doing well.

Ernest Randolph

Hi Bill.
Hudson Taylor laid in bed for a year straight before he went back to ministry. Maybe it was longer. Anyway, Jesus takes us on a journey. I hope yours continues with many blessings.
Coming from someone who is kind of in a mid life crisis I am not sure I can help much.
I do wish you would evaluate my friend, Aaron Budgen's radio and podcast/archive ministry.

http://www.newcovenantinstitute.net/living_god_ministries/radio_archive/forgiveness.htm

He has shape my understanding of the Gospel tremendously. The link here is to his shows on forgiveness.

Let me know what you think
Ernestrandolph@msn.com

Jerry B Jenkins

Amazing how many people resonate with the metaphor, eh, Bill? You've struck a nerve. And we'll take your careful exegesis anytime and from anywhere--if not from the pulpit, from the pen.

Karen Mill

Pastor Bill,
You are Benched and I am experiencing "Detours". I might say it does help you recognize patience and what a virtue it truly is. You gotta trust our God because His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Life goes on everyday and we need to be alert for the time you are no longer benched and my detour has ended so that we can say Thank You Lord for what we have learned from you during this unique time in our lives. Being able to laugh at yourself when you discover that you have been walking around the house with two different colored shoes on for most of the day, helps to lighten your mood and say isn't getting older so much fun.
Love to you and Jan.
Karen Mill

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