THIS article is for the pastor. Actually, to be frank, it’s for me. If you’re in a position like me — i.e. God calls you a pastor — meaning you have a special shepherding ministry for others — you’ll possibly recognise what such a sacrificial occupation requires of you, implicit of the nature of the role. You exist for others. Pastoring is not a job, it’s a lifestyle.
It was explained to me that when God calls a person to no other calling but to pastor, that person has a terrible calling on their life. Any other job would do. And if we could do any other job, why would we pastor? But too much these days pastors are glamour boys or superwomen — especially in our narcissistic social-media age. Truth is it’s a loaded vocation, much like the Christian faith is.
Nobody tells new converts of the spiritual warfare they willingly (yet unknowingly) enter. Life gets harder when we live a true faith, not easier. It gets less comfortable when we commit to growing, not more comfy. And for the pastor, as Dale Stephenson once said, they’re not as good as some people say they are, just as they’re not as bad as others make them out to be.
On the one hand ministry’s a blessed privilege. On the other it’s a sure curse, at least from our carnality’s perspective.
The pastor is a target — the enemy will get his clutches on us, alright! But ever more the pastor is also God’s man or woman. And they daren’t forget how intrinsic is their protection. God has promised to never leave nor forsake any of us; how much more will the Lord bless the obedience of his servant. But that very obedience may require of them their life.
The Acronym – P.A.S.T.O.R.
Persisting Against Spiritual Torment, Obeying Resolutely… the pastor is and does.
The pastor persists. Persistence is required against spiritual torment, which can be part and parcel of their daily going out and coming home. They obey resolutely. Perfection isn’t required but resolve, overall, is. Resolve is about coming back to a commitment made and keeping that commitment.
Here he goes and there she is,
The pastor is at once sublime,
But equally they fail,
Equally they’ll struggle and let you down,
But their job it is in humility to climb.
Humiliation was made for the strong,
Mortification was made for those
Who will be found to be wrong.
The Pastor is Strong, Because the Pastor Can Be Wrong
Persisting against spiritual torment, obeying resolutely; the pastor is humble enough to know they will be wrong. The pastor is an exemplar of humanity; every person is fallible enough to be wrong on a regular basis.
The pastor is ready to show everyone they encounter how to be wrong with dignity. They have no fear for exposure, because true exposure is only about the truth.
Any pastor who struggles to be wrong when they’re wrong still has a character flaw unworthy of their calling. A pastor is called to be wrong, good and well.
When a person admits they’re wrong they facilitate reconciliation in conflict because justice is served when they, a courageous person, are honest. How much better is it for a pastor — a church leader — to promptly admit wrongdoing? And in all relational encounters it takes two to tango — everyone has something they could have done better when they’re honest. They’re an example of leadership for us all, for the best leadership is a noble, trustworthy leadership.
Too many people fail a basic relational test in not being able to be responsible for their contribution of wrong. If a pastor shows they’ve mastered this key leadership competency they facilitate forgiveness, reconciliation and remove barriers to healing.
The pastor obeys resolutely, persisting against the ever-present spiritual torment that sets itself against him or her. It requires them to be dignified in being wrong.
Admission of contribution of wrongdoing sets spiritual captives of bitterness free.
Six P.A.S.T.O.R. Values
Perseverance – the resilience of persistence in adversity is perseverance.
Accountable – pastors strive to be accountable persons; self-disciplined to a fault.
Selfless – able to think of others first, pastors try to bring the fullness of Philippians 2 to bear over their entire lives.
Trustworthiness – it’s crucial a pastor can be found worthy of others’ trust.
Obedient – the juxtaposition of trust is obedience. If a pastor only trusts and obeys they’re doing the Lord’s will for their lives.
Righteous – justice and righteousness mean essentially the same thing: the unequivocal commitment to God’s truth, no matter the cost.
When a pastor fails any of these endeavours they’re quick to confess and repent. And to God be the glory!
© 2015 Steve Wickham.