Pastors walk a fine line. A very fine line.

We live with our heads in the future and our hearts in the present. We hold what is in one hand and what could be in the other. We see reality and we see potential. We see sinners and we see saints. We’re called but we’re flawed.

I love my church family, I really do. But sometimes those dang sheep deserve a swift kick in the heinie. On the other side, they always need love. True, there are those glorious moments when true love means dispensing a swift kick in the heinie — when we can have our cake and eat it too — but those times are rare. And I have to remind myself that if I were in their shoes, I’d appreciate some patient discretion when it came to the deployment of a deft army boot to my backside.

Maybe some sheep aren’t sheep at all. They’re goats. Jesus said that would happen, right? Try to lead a goat sometime. Welcome to my world.

But sometimes the sheep blow me away. Sometimes they humble me and remind me why this calling is so important. There’s a new Christian in our Life Group, and while she has a lot of growing to do (don’t we all!) she never ceases to amaze me. Really. I can literally say, “the Holy Spirit exists because look at C___________!” Exhibit A, B, and C. There you go.

She learns things that Christians I’ve known for years don’t get yet. She’s changing, becoming more like Jesus. And her heart is soft to him. It’s beautiful.

There are too many “Christians” who wouldn’t follow God, wouldn’t love and obey and walk with him unless they had me and the church to remind them every week. That kind of sheepish goat tires me right out. And probably more than half the North American church is like that.

Then there the intrinsically motivated, Spirit-filled, stubborn and passionate believers who would follow God without church, without my badgering. They’d follow God even if I told them not to. People who truly get it, who live contagious lives because Jesus is alive in them. Makes you wonder what the other people really are.

And then I realize: Boots to the butt won’t fix this. Only God can. Jesus, bring the rain!