I believe a pastor often wrestles with his own identity because of the desire to be a successful pastor. Invariably, pastors experience the pain of comparison and the pressure of producing quantifiable results (i.e., more attendance, more baptisms, bigger budget, etc.) All of this can sometimes lead to momentary panic attacks riddled with self-doubt while chasing the latest fad.
Today, it seems that a pastor must be a social media guru, a
master of marketing, an effective motivational speaker, and, of course, the
latest version of cool. It may feel that
way because that’s what we tend to see when we view the pastors of the most
recent popular mega churches. Or, maybe
you have some of their wannabees in your own town. In the middle of all this, just relax and remind
yourself of truth with which to anchor the ministry.
First, be yourself.
God did not decree that a certain personality was required for effective
pastors. It's extremely easy to confuse
ministry success with personality. You
and I don't have to be a certain type in order to be a good pastor. Don't conform to a stereotype, whatever that
may be in your mind. Be comfortable in
your own skin. Be authentic. Be yourself.
Trying to be something you’re not is just too exhausting and not
Second, know what God wants you to fulfill as a pastor. And as far as I can discern from the Bible,
there are only two absolute and irrevocable responsibilities. A pastor must provide accurate information to the congregation with the Bible and provide
the proper inspiration with a godly
Every time a pastor stands before the congregation to open
his mouth and give a sermon, whether to a packed house or faithful few, his job
is to accurately preach the Word of God.
He must rightly understand it himself so he can effectively teach it and
appropriately apply it. God uses the truth
in the Bible to transform people and grow them in Christ (Heb. 4:12). The pastor is the one who equips believers
for service (Eph. 4:11-12). The pastor
is the one charged with teaching what is right and warning about what is wrong
(Titus 1:9). This is a tremendous
responsibility and the pastor's primary task (1 Tim.5:17-19). Other necessary matters are not unimportant. You'll have to organize, administrate, make visits,
cast vision, and keep repeating what is important. However, you can and should get others to
help with many of those tasks. But you
must never allow secondary things to take away from your primary responsibility
- to teach the people God's Word to the best of your ability. Don’t slight your preparation time. Make sure the congregation understands this.
Second, I must never forget that my authority to preach
God's Word rests on my living a life that is worthy of imitation (Heb.
13:7). I may be an amazing communicator,
effective organizer, and have an undeniable charisma, but if I am not being the
man God says I must be, the ministry will come crashing down in time, crushing
everyone who had trusted me.
Pastors must live in 1 Tim. 3:1-7. I don’t believe this is an exhaustive list,
but the idea of above reproach comes
through loud and clear. The pastor is to
be the example to the flock (1 Pet. 5:1-4).
A solid preaching and teaching ministry must be upheld by an authentic man
of God who pursues this high calling with earnestness. He must bring himself into constant
submission to God’s Word as he teaches it to others. To be above reproach neither means to be
beyond criticism nor to imply perfection.
However, it does mean that no one can legitimately point out a disqualifying
character flaw. All believers should
strive for this, but pastors must be this.
We pastors must be happy with allowing the great God who
called us to use us just the way he made us.
We must not insecurely think we must be a certain kind of personality to
be effective. We must remind ourselves
to work hard at preparing and delivering thoroughly biblical sermons that
expertly expound the text and apply it properly. And we must set the moral example so that we
can confidently say to our flock, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of
Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).
The church belongs to Jesus.
He established it and is coming back one day for it. In the meantime, He gave to His church pastors. He has given to pastors a sacred authority to
lead. We should fulfill it with no fear
of man or culture, but only with the fear of the Lord to whom we will give an
account (Heb. 13:17). And we should
pursuit it with all confidence in the God who called us. Be of good cheer fellow pastors! And any time you’re feeling unsure, unequipped,
or just out of touch, remind yourself of your job. Preach the Word. Set the example. Be
yourself. The rest is just details.
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