What occupies the majority of your time as a pastor?
Every pastor is different, and every pastoral assignment is different. These are certainties. And with these certain differences, each of us must learn where the majority of our time should be proactively focused.
Perhaps your focus is on preaching better sermons or providing the most excellent pastoral care. Maybe your heart is consumed with developing the leaders within your congregation. Or perhaps there’s an outreach ministry with which your pastoral heart is consumed.
I certainly recognize in my current pastoral assignment, that I have a responsibility to develop our leadership and lead the congregation I serve. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that as the leading voice in the pulpit there are three things that I must do.
1. I must tell unbelievers how to get right with God. This could be labeled as pastoral evangelism.
Assuming that every person in your audience is in a right relationship with God is an eternally dangerous thing to do. Presuming that every individual in your congregation is presently right with God is just as erroneous. Of course, the smaller the congregation, the more accurate your discernment could be in this matter. However, I don’t mind the risk of offending the unchurched or the over-churched in my congregation. I sense a divine mandate to tell each person how to get right with God.
2. I must teach believers how to live right for God. This could be labeled as pastoral discipleship.
Sometimes I know exactly who needs to be taught and what they need to be taught. Most of the time, I sense the leadership of the Spirit pushing me to teach believers from a certain theme or topic. Other times, I might be certain that He wants me to teach through a book of the Bible or simply preach a few messages from a certain portion of Scripture. But at all times, I know that God has called me to teach believers how to live right for God. This is done by staying in communion with Christ and staying in His holy word. Because of this compulsion, I rarely allow myself to get too involved with other outside interests.
3. I must equip believers to do these first two tasks. This could be called pastoral equipping.
Every believer needs to learn how to go about personal evangelism. And I cannot assume that they will acquire that desire on their own. By preaching to inspire them and teaching to empower them, I must equip the believers under my care to obey the Lord’s charge to missional evangelism. And then after the conversion takes place, there is an obvious need for discipleship. But I cannot personally disciple every believer in my congregation, and I’m not supposed to either. If I attempt to personally disciple every convert, I am robbing other members of the Body of Christ from being able to fulfill their calling. And I am unintentionally keeping my congregation small. Therefore, I must fulfill my pastoral charge in such a manner that I equip others to do the work of evangelism and discipleship.
Actually, I believe that the task of every God called Gospel minister is three-fold. Tell unbelievers how to get right with God, teach believers how to live right for God, and then equip believers to do the first two.
I don’t mean to oversimplify the pastoral call or to make it sound easy to accomplish. It’s actually accomplished in spite of much difficulty over a lengthier course of time than what we desire.
However, it sometimes helps me to reduce the complicated processes of ministry to a simpler form. In this way, I can wrap my mind around it all and destress over the enormity of the call.
What about you, pastor? What occupies the majority of your time and what activities must you accomplish through your spoken ministry?