Pastoral ministry is hard. It’s even harder in an age of constant information, bitter divisions and high expectations. Pastors are pulled in the direction of various controversies, passions and conflicts. As a pastor myself, I want to offer five thoughts to encourage pastors.
1. Keep the Gospel central. Not every issue is your responsibility. You are tasked with keeping the specific message of the Gospel clear and central in the life of the church. You cannot let the pressing problems of today diminish this priority.
God will not judge us as pastors based on our ability to absorb and retain all the circulating information. He will call us to give an account regarding the Gospel’s priority in our own local churches. Don’t let your people elevate the implications of the Gospel over the Gospel itself.
2. Evangelism is our calling. Pastors don’t have to be involved in every ‘world-shattering’ moment or issue. Though many will claim that what they do is advancing the Kingdom of God, there is only one way that true advancement happens–evangelism.
I may not know much about this ideology or that theory, but I do know the Gospel. I believe that it is the solution to all of life’s problems. Our calling is to make disciples of Christ. That only happens through God’s people sharing the Gospel.
3. Everything is temporary. “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9). The older we get the more this verse proves its truthfulness. The things we fight today will be vapor tomorrow. Only one thing will last, and it isn’t our political affiliation, celebrity pastors or government indoctrination. The only thing that will last is the Gospel of Christ and its effect upon the human soul.
It can be tempting to get caught up in the heat of the moment. But every moment fades. Pastors must stay the course in the unchanging call of the ministry. Don’t let the waves of arguments toss you about.
4. Your people need sanctification. Pastors must have eternity in focus. They must remember that spiritual growth matters most. We can be so embroiled in controversy that not only will evangelism suffer, but our own spiritual growth will be stunted.
Your people don’t need you to play into their fears and worries. Your people need to be sanctified. They need to be urged and, at times, pushed toward Christ. Sometimes that requires sacrificing popularity and likability. Pastoring can be a lonely calling, but it is the spiritual growth of His people that God will be most pleased with.
5. Your people need your leadership. The very fact that the office of pastor exists means that people need to be led. If they are not led, they will wander. If they have wandered, even collectively, they need to be guided back to better pastures. Therefore, they need the humble and bold leadership of a pastor to keep them on the right track. Sometimes, the Bride must be called back to the Bridegroom. And God’s pastors are the men to issue that call.
Pastoring is a unique calling. None of us can do it on our own. We are to teach about a God we cannot fully understand. We are to instruct in matters that are too complex. We are to teach on mysteries beyond our knowledge. We don’t deal in concrete experiences. We deal in terms of faith. But it is our calling, and God will sustain us to the end if we only keep our eyes on what matters.