From my perspective, there are some hard truths that I believe you deserve to know sooner rather than later.
Maybe you are newly called to the ministry, and pastoral ministry seems attractive. Maybe you have recently started in your first pastorate. I know what it is like to be a novice. Honestly, I’m glad to be more seasoned and mature in pastoral ministry. Yet, the longer I serve, the more I continue to face some hard realities. Let me share these three that you will have to learn to deal with.
- You will always doubt some professions of faith. Just because it talks like a Christian and dresses like one, doesn’t mean it’s real. Jesus says that a tree should be judged by its fruit. Brother James said that faith without works is dead. But the reality is that only God knows. Deal with it.
- You will typically receive more than your share of the blame. That comes with the calling. You’re the face of the body, and when people need someone to blame for something they don’t like, they will look at you. That’s the way the pastoral cookie crumbles. Deal with it.
- You will always be responsible for more than preaching sermons. Preparing sermons and preaching messages is the main source of your growing influence for Christ, which needs to be stewarded wisely. However, there’s a whole lot more responsibility involved with local church ministry than that. And while you don’t need to actually do it all, you are responsible for seeing that it is all done. Deal with it.
In spite of these three, let me explain that I love pastoral ministry. In my current pastorate, I’m in the niche of my calling, and I love what I get to do. To serve God’s Kingdom as a pastor is a privilege for which I am grateful.
Those difficult people that profess Christ and have no Christian fruit, I love them and pray for them often. And I’m not afraid to teach them the hard truths of Scripture. Like the poor, there will always be some in this camp that God entrusts to your care.
For those who like to play the blame game and make me the loser, I love them and pray for them too. And I’m not afraid to gently show them how their pattern of bad decisions are the reason for their displeasure. God knows the truth, and so does their circle of people.
The never-ending responsibilities that sometimes overwhelm me are also a subject of my prayer life. And now more than ever, I’m willing to demonstrate and delegate through the Ephesians 4 model of equipping others to do the work of the ministry. There’s always more willing workers than what you’ve currently tapped.
If you are a pastor, which of these three are you best at dealing with? And which one of these three did you read about and think “I need to do better” with?