I am richly blessed as a pastor. I just got back from having breakfast with one of the men in the church and it was as much about his desire to encourage me as it was about my desire to impart some blessing to him. It was a great time. That notwithstanding there are days… my but there are days when I wonder about it. I don’t question my call, I’m past that for now.
Mondays are usually the worst days of the week for me. I remember Joe Stowell (I think) saying that pastors suffer from Post-adrenaline-depression on Monday’s and then citing a few studies to back it up. I think he’s right. Sunday night I’m usually bushed. Monday I’m usually Blue and by Tuesday I’m feeling the pressure of next Sunday not to mention this Wednesday night and the scheduled and unscheduled visits and discipleship times.
One of the more difficult aspects of Pastoral ministry for me is trying to determine what to weigh my success or failure in the ministry against. What exactly is my yardstick?
Right on time here comes Dan Phillips With a most excellent series: The hardest aspect of pastoral ministry Addressing the exact problem.
- (part one)
It certainly wasn’t what you might think, or what I would have thought. It wasn’t learning Greek or even Hebrew, or any of the Biblical or homiletical sciences; it wasn’t learning the mechanics of candidating or interviewing or counseling or administrating; it wasn’t preparing as many as four different messages a week; it wasn’t maintaining a relationship with Christ or a holy walk. It wasn’t earning degrees, or anything associated therewith.
It was the very nature of the work, in the specific aspect that sets it apart from every other “job.”
- (part two)
insofar as you’re a tender-hearted, God-centered pastor at all, you’re desperate to know if you’re pleasing Him, desperate to find some way of telling — now! — what you’re going to hear when your ministry stands in review.
there is no single, analogous, infallible advance-indicator of pastoral success, externally or internally.
And yet pastoral ministry is vital, indispensable, essential, God-conceived, God-given, God-required, God-ordained, God-centered, and God-evaluated.
- (Part Three)
Put it all together, and this is the picture with which we’re left:
- One must aim above all to please God…
- …which can only be done by responding to His Word in obedient faith…
- …and which will produce a life and ministry that will only have its final assessment at the judgment seat of Christ.
The pastor, then, is like a pilot who is flying by instruments. He can see nothing out of the window. He can’t chart his course by sight nor feel. “I do not even judge myself,” Paul says (1 Corinthians 4:3). He has to go by what the instruments tell him. In the pastor’s case, the “instruments” are the Word of God.
Wow, thanks Dan. But I wanted the gizmo approach – you know the one that really doesn’t work but sounds good. Oh, well I guess I just have to live with it.
Am I getting into scripture, applying it to my life and teaching what I discover? Yes.
Do I feel like I’ve arrived? Heavens no.
Have I got a long way to go? You bet your Garmin I do.
Am I being faithful? I think so.
In the end, I have to follow Dan’s advice – which comes straight out of the scripture. As “Dave” summarized in the replies
1) the pastorate is a faith-guided endeavor,
2) the pastorate is a God_pleasing endeavor, and
3) the pastorate is an eschtologically-measured endeavor.