Later this month by God’s grace, I will reach my six-year anniversary as the preaching pastor of my local church. I realize that this is not an incredibly long time and that compared to many faithful pastors, I’m still a snot-nosed kid with all kinds of things yet to learn. Yet, I actually find it astonishing that I’ve made it this far. Truly, this is all of grace. I say that because I’ve come to realize that being in ministry poses a myriad of threats to a man’s spiritual health.
I remember hearing it said somewhere that ministry will either make you a better man, or a far worse one. Like Paul discusses in 2 Corinthians 12, the privilege of knowing the Lord and the riches of his revelation, can easily become a source of pride and puff a man up with great conceit. There is no guarantee that your soul will thrive in ministry; despite the hours you may spend in the serious study and proclamation of Scripture, and the number of people you counsel with the Word, and even the effectiveness of your ministry. You can actually be a very effective pastor while your spiritual health is failing miserably. That’s just the way the cookie of God’s mysterious Providence sometimes crumbles. It is very easy for pastors to do ministry in a way that does not cultivate their spiritual health, and in fact hinders it. Mining Scripture exclusively for teaching material, giving counsel to others that you do not personally live by, putting in extra hours at the office to escape from other responsibilities, ministering to the church to the neglect of your family; these are just some of the ways you can be very busy as pastor and very unhealthy as a Christian.… Continue reading
Every church has its flaws. Significant ones, in fact, since even the best of churches are made up of and led by exclusively by sinners. As a result, if you are a member of a local church, you are bound to be regularly disappointed by something going on within it.
In the local church it doesn’t take long before you encounter people who don’t share your excitement for the particulars of your theology, or who don’t seem to be very zealous in evangelism or very excited about living in “community,” or who are just remarkably ordinary (unlike you, of course). Every Christian comes into the church with expectations regarding what church life should be like, and every Christian who has spent any period of time in the church has experienced some level of disappointment with his/her church from those expectations going unmet.… Continue reading
Yesterday was yet another election day in the United States; a day when a healthy percentage of the American population visited their designated polling places to lend their voice to decide who will lead and represent our states, for the next couple of years at least. (Or, they mailed in their ballots weeks ago, which I wish I would have done, but didn’t.)
I wrote this post a couple of years ago on the day of our most recent Presidential election. I stand by it today, and offer it to you once again, in hope that it will help Christians in some small way to stay focused on things that are most important concerning this life, namely, things that concern eternity and the life to come.… Continue reading
Dealing with criticism is a common challenge facing all pastors and an especially difficult one for many of them. If you are a pastor, you know what it is to be criticized. If are not a pastor but have one (or more), I can assure you that you are being shepherded by a man (or men) who has dealt with the challenge of criticism.
Last week I gave a message at a small pastors’ conference for the network our church is a part of (check them out!) on this very issue; dealing with the challenge of criticism. It was a good subject for me to work through, since for me personally, the steady flow of criticism has been the challenge that has most frequently led me to question whether I can endure as a pastor for the long haul, and whether I even want to do so. … Continue reading
“How, then, is true brotherly service performed in the Christian community?” German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer asks this very practical question near the outset of the fourth chapter in his relevant and helpful book Life Together. In an attempt to flesh out the ways Christians are to serve one another in the church, Bonoeffer begins with a ministry that many of us are prone to overlook – the ministry of listening.
“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to his Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.
… Continue reading