I enjoy reading books that go against the natural grain of my personality. They challenge me and give me a fresh perspective. For me, this was one of those books. My personality is very analytical, process driven, and task-oriented. Most books on pastoral ministry fit well with what my personality naturally gravitates to as they deal with the process and programs to grow a church or the principles of leadership to lead a congregation. This book, however, deals with the heart of pastoral ministry.
The focus of the book is not what a pastor does so much as what a pastor is. It is relational. It is practical, although it doesn’t give you ten steps or an outline. It is about being, not about doing. This is a side of pastoral ministry, I would dare say, we all need to pay more attention to; for our sake and for the sake of our family and the precious people we pastor.
I will leave you with a few quotes that I thought especially notable and a recommendation to read the book if you desire to have the heart of a pastor. [Buy the book on Amazon.]
The pastoral ministry is a life, not a technology.
My life as a pastor is far more than the sum of the tasks that I carry out. It is a call from God that involves my whole life.
Task-driven ministry elevates the method above the Spirit. It subjugates our life with Christ to management technologies. Our day is divided into hours and tasks rather than opportunities to do God’s will. The problem is that when I fine-tune my week I am out of harmony with the kingdom of God.
The pastoral ministry cannot be employer-driven, trend-driven, or task-driven. Pastoral ministry must be following Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ called me to this work, and following Him must be integral to realizing His calling.
Jesus understood from the beginning that His was a life of sacrifice. His life flowed toward the cross at all times. He never climbed ladders of success. The devil showed Him plenty. The people begged Him to climb. But Jesus rejected ladders and consistently chose the downward road to sacrifice.
Paul describes here a church which may seem unfamiliar to most of us today. If you are old enough to remember a good old fashioned testimony service, his words will make perfect sense. “When you come together,” he says, “everyone has a song, or a teaching, or a revelation. Everyone has something to add to the service.” The people to whom Paul was writing to did not come to church to receive all the time, they came to give.
Paul admonished them to be sure that everything they did was for the edifying (building up) of the Church. Every believer, whether they came with a song, a testimony, a teaching, or a revelation, was contributing to the upbuilding and ministry of the entire congregation. Everyone came to play their part, contributing to the overall health of the body.
What positive contribution are you making to this goal? Every one of us has something to give and no one’s gift is insignificant. We should come to every service prepared to give; give worship to God and give in ministry to the Church body.
It is more blessed to give than to receive. -Acts 20:25
Obviously, if everyone comes bursting with something to say or do, things can get out of hand very easily. Paul uses the remainder of this chapter to bring balance to the enthusiasm of believers to contribute to the service. He begins by correcting certain practices and concludes with a simple summary, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (14:40).
The word “decently” means “with beauty.” The word “order” means “arrangement.” Let everything be done in beauty and by arrangement. This can only be an outflow of a private spiritual life of a child of God. Without a personal relationship with God, you will never come to a service with something to contribute. It is out of that private and personal communion with God that you can come to a service with a song on your heart and a testimony for the Lord that will minister to the Body of Christ.
Living a life of influence is all about relationships; intentional, authentic relationships. We are met each day with an opportunity to impact the lives of others. If we are going to change the world we live in, if we are going to make a difference in the lives of the people around us we must have a platform and a source.
Your relationship with them is the platform. A platform is something that is given and earned. There are a multitude of voices in the world, more today than ever. Every person must choose which voices they are going to listen to. When someone trusts you and respects you, they will give you the platform to speak into their life. This trust and respect is earned through relationship.
Having a platform is not enough. Everyone has a platform with somebody. However, we are not all positively influencing those whom have come to trust and respect us. If our platform is going to be positive, we must have a source.
Our relationship with Him is the source. When I don’t spend time alone with God in prayer and study of His Word, I immediately notice that the positive impact that my life has on those around me begins to decline. I don’t have anything to give of myself if I don’t first receive from Him. I have nothing to pour out if I don’t first allow Him to pour in. It is Him working through me that allows me to be a blessing at all.
Change your world. Build a platform. Stay connected to the source.
I am currently reading a great book on Bible study titled Living By the Book by Dr. Howard Hendricks. Dr. Hendricks offers practical advice for Bible study regardless of your level of familiarity with Scripture. I highly recommend this book.
Today I want to share a brief study that Dr. Hendricks provides on the word translated “perfecting” in Galatians 4:12.* What does “perfecting” mean in this Scripture? One way to get a better understanding is to look up other uses of the same greek word in the New Testament.
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” Galatians 4:11-12
This word is also used to describe the mending of broken nets. Fisherman had to repair their nets at the end of a long day of fishing. This is a beautiful picture of the purpose of the five-fold ministry; it is for the repairing of the saints.
The same word is also used to describe the setting of broken bones. When someone breaks a bone, a doctor must set the bone, or bring it back into alignment so that it can heal properly. Once again, we have a picture of the purpose of the five-fold ministry; it helps to bring healing to the saints.
Finally, this word is used to describe the preparing of a ship for its journey. When a ship sets our for a long journey, the crew must board everything that will be needed to get them safely to their destination. That is the purpose of the five-fold ministry; it equips the saints with everything they need to make the journey.
Dr. Hendricks’ book is packed full of these types of nuggets. If you have a desire to better understand the Word of God, this book will help tremendously.
*Dr. Hendricks uses the NASB version of the Bible which translates this word “equipping.” See numbers 2675 and 2677 in a Strong’s Concordance.