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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Heart of a Godly Pastor for the Local Church

The life of the pastor of the local church is filled with responsibilities, relationships, and requirements.  The typical pastor makes countless decisions per day and many of those decisions involve eternal elements.  The number of things that are pressed before a pastor each day cannot all be accomplished.  The pastor simply does not have enough time to cover every area that needs to be covered.  The time for prayer and study alone takes up a large portion of time.  The time that is left per day after prayer and study can be filled with visitation, family, community, evangelism, tragedies, funerals, weddings, and the list goes on.

In thinking through the reality of the many obligations that pull at the pastor of the local church, you could easily add the emotional level of it all.  The pastor loves his people, cares about their spiritual wellbeing, and truly hurts when he sees those he cares about going down a road that will hurt them.  When the pastor does get home his mind and heart are still consumed about all the issues of the day, and when he lays down to sleep it seems that his mind moves even faster.  If it were not for the grace of God he would simply self-destruct.

It is not my intent in this post to try to solve the whole of this situation, but to give a word that may help the pastor and that may help the church member to help their pastor.  In Philippians 3:14 Paul says, "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus".  The word διώκω (press on) means "to move rapidly and decisively toward an objective, hasten, run, press on" (BDAG).  This verse is where we get the old hymn, "I Am Resolved" by Palmer Hartsough.  In stanza 3 of that hymn he says, "I am resolved to follow the Savior, faithful and true each day.  Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth, He is the living way".

There are a few things that should be notice from Philippians 3:12-16 about Paul that should help.  First, the word διώκω is also used in verse 12.  Paul realizes that he has not obtained the resurrection from the dead nor is he perfect, but he 'presses on'.  What is Paul's motive?  Christ has made him his own.  Paul's identity in Christ was the motive of his ministry.  Second, Paul had the wisdom to know that he could not live in the past.  He had made mistakes, sinned, failed, and etc., but wisdom showed him to επιλανθανομαι (to forget) what was behind and to stretch out or strain for what is ahead.  Third, Paul knew that the issue that was of extreme importance was to διώκω (press on) in regards to the call.  There is nothing greater on earth than the call to the pastoral ministry and the pastor of the local church cannot allow anything to distract him from fulfilling that call.  Martin Luther reportedly said, "Why should I stoop to the level of being a king, when I can stand in the pulpit of God".  Lastly,  the mature are the ones who think this way.  The local pastor must hold true to that which he has obtained.  

The local pastor is to be motivated by his identity in Christ, forgetting the past, pressing on to fulfill the call,  and to know that that is the most mature thing that he can do.  The local pastor will save himself a lot of trouble to have resolve in these areas.  Resolve who you are in Christ.  Resolve what it is that your have been called to do.  Resolve, that come hell or high water you will preach verse by verse, pray without ceasing, lead your family, and serve your local church.  No matter what the entire world may do, nor what they may do to you, be resolved to διώκω (press on) to fulfill the calling that God has placed upon your life.  

If you as a church member desire to help your pastor fulfill his God given role, here are a few suggestions that may be a blessing to your pastor and ultimately to your own soul.  First, pray for your pastor on a daily basis.  Pray that he will stay focused upon that which is most important to the God he serves.  Second, encourage him to study well for his sermons and for any bible studies he is teaching.  Come to class or to worship hungry to learn from the Word of God.  Ask him questions about the text and show interest in the Word of God.  Third, take a moment and encourage his wife.  A pastor's wife who is encouraged, loved, and appreciated will ultimately be one of the greatest ways to bless the pastor.  Show me a happy pastor's wife and I will show you a happy pastor.  Lastly, show genuine love for God by showing genuine love for your local church.  Any pastor worth his salt will love the local church and he will be greatly encouraged to see others loving the same thing that he loves.  There is nothing more draining on a pastor that to see people with a low view of the bride of Christ and there is nothing more exciting for a pastor than to see the people of God giving their lives to serve God by serving the local church.