1. This is Christ's Church! In I Peter 5, Peter exhorts the elders of the various churches to shepherd God's flock. This can only be done Biblically and effectively, however, when the elders realize that they are doing so as undershepherds awaiting the return of the chief Shepherd Jesus Christ. In other words, each church is Christ's not the pastor(s). I have thought about this truth frequently over my first year in this new position. While I am called to faithfully guard, instruct, and care for the flock, I must remember that these are Christ's people. Only He can change lives and truly meet each sheep's needs. What a stewardship has been granted to me yet what a relief as well!
2. You Lead/I Follow! Along with the above point, many times it has been impressed upon my heart that I cannot lead the church on a whim. The church is much bigger than one man's ideas, preferences, or philosophies. It is about being in line with Christ's calling and equipping and being willing to follow. This is done in the context of a plurality of leadership. Is God moving us in a certain way or a certain direction? Do others sense that call? Are we willing to abandon our comfort or complacency to lead others where the Lord is first leading us? As a pastor, in being called to lead I am first called to follow Christ.
3. Pastoral Ministry is Humbling! I do not mean this in a negative sense at all! I am continually humbled by the calling which lies before me. Everyday I must stare at the inadequacies of self before I can turn to the enabling of the Holy Spirit. Every week I am called upon to deliver the Word of God despite my own unworthiness. Every week there are hurting people looking for life's answers and a message of hope. Where will I turn? Far too often I am prone to look within to do what only Christ can do. God first must break the preacher before He can ever break the church. Am I willing for this to take place? Am I willing to rejoice in my own inadequacies so that I may cling to Christ? In many professions individuals pride themselves on their accomplishments but to be affective for Christ, we must come embracing our emptiness. I need to learn and relearn this lesson every single day.
4. Preach Christ! There are a variety of "topics" that one could address from the pulpit. There are many interesting and even scandalous ways to work a message to try to peak one's curiosity and make the subject matter seem appealing. But if there is one thing that I must cling to it is what the apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 1:23: "But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles." He must be on the lips of the preacher every time he preaches! His work must be proclaimed to believer and unbeliever alike! It is the only thing and He is the only Person who can change lives! May I be known as a preacher of Christ. Whether the Lord has my ministry as a pastor to be 5 years or 50 years, may all who listen to me hear of Christ and what He has done!
5. Ministry is Hard Work! Sometimes I wonder if people get the perception that pastoral ministry is a "Sunday only" job. Nothing could be further from the truth! To fully understand the pressures of a pastor I think one must be one or have been one in the past. No matter the pressures, difficulties, or demands, however, it is Christ's work. God uses these complexities to conform the pastor to be more like Christ. In other words, I find myself needing to remind myself at times that God has ordained the things I walk through, pleasant or unpleasant, as His sovereign plan to bring about redemption in me. That does not mean that I must enjoy every part of the process but it does mean that I can be thankful for what He is accomplishing through it. Such words are easier said than done but at the end of the day I can rest in His sovereign care and sufficiency for my life.
I hope that these few thoughts have spurred you to think about what God has been teaching you in your life journey! I would love to hear your thoughts!