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Where Do Pastors Go to Cry?Practical Principles You Won't Learn In Seminary
By Pastor Paul D. Stevens
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Pastor Paul D. Stevens, D.Min
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Chapter OneUnderstanding Your Call
"Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall ..." II Peter 1:10
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When God created us, He put something in us that we can use to equip the saints and edify the body of Christ. We all have been given at least one gift we can use for the service of the Lord. Every pastor has a specific gift. He or she may be a great preacher, teacher or administrator. But there is at least one gift every individual possesses. Some pastors are multi-gifted. What a blessing if the Lord has given you more than one gift. To God be the glory. There are many churches around the world that were built because of great preaching. Then there are also churches worldwide that were built by pastors who were what I consider administrative geniuses. Before one can become great and efficient in any area of ministry, he must know and understand his specific ministry calling.
It should go without saying that before pastors can understand their call, they must first know what is a call into ministry. All Christians are called into ministry. We are called into service of the Lord. The first call one receives as a saint of God is the call into salvation. We have been called out of darkness into God's marvelous light (I Peter 2:9). Once we have been called into the family of God and have become the people of God, the Lord then chooses an appointed few into professional church leadership. All Christians are saints by calling, but not all saints are preachers by calling (I Corinthians 1:2). According to II Corinthians 5:17-20, we see that ministry is for all.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ behalf: Be reconciled to God."
Every Christian ministry should be engaged in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ through word and deed.
There are many forms of ministry as seen in Ephesians 4:11, "It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers." Every call into the ministry is not necessarily a call to be a pastor. When one is sensing the call of God on his or her life, some hard questions must be asked. What is God saying to me? What is He calling me to do? Am I sure I am hearing God's voice? Do I know His voice without a doubt? Am I willing to heed to the call?
Once it has been confirmed in your spirit that God has called you into the gospel ministry, get an understanding of your specific call. Where are you called to serve? It has been previously mentioned that being in ministry is more than being a preacher / pastor. Being a pastor is only one aspect of being called into ministry. One can work in a para-church setting, as a chaplain, an evangelist, a missionary and so forth. Why not develop or start a ministry that is different and unique? Think of ways that will attract people to come and hear about Jesus Christ.
Seminary Professor and author, Elmer Towns says that there are three ways to describe the call to full-time Christian service: the burden, the desire, and the fruit.
1. The call of God begins with a burden. Several of the Old Testament prophets indicated that their message was the burden of the Lord (Mal. 1:1, Hab. 1:1). A burden is an obligation or a compulsion. A young man who is called into full-time Christian service has a burden or a compulsion to serve Jesus Christ.
2. The call to full-time Christian service involves desire. A man knows he is called of God when his greatest desire is to serve Jesus Christ with every part of his life. This involves his will; it is surrendered and he wants to spend all of his time serving Jesus Christ. Usually the call to full-time Christian service comes to those who are actively involved in ministry in the local church.
3. The call of God is evidenced by fruit. When God has put his hand upon a young man and separated him to full-time Christian service, there will be corresponding fruit. Therefore, before a council ordains a young man into full-time ministry, there should be some evidence that God has used his preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
It is abundantly clear that God bestows on some persons gifts that seem best to fit the demand of a particular time and place. The Bible is very persuasive on this point. God equips people for a purpose. We cannot discern any general ability in persons that God always relies on. Biblical figures receive their summons in a variety of ways, depending upon their unique personalities and situations: some through dreams and visions, some by contact with significant people, some through tumultuous inner experiences. And some are receptive to the summons and others are very resistant and reluctant.
It is interesting to see throughout the Bible how God called His preacher / prophets in unique ways. From the call of Moses through a burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4:17), the judges, the prophets from Samuel to Malachi, all the way down to the calling of the twelve disciples of Christ (Matthew 4:18-22), all of them knew how important it was for them to speak the living Word of God.
Now let's look at the person God uses for special leadership in the church. God sets the minister apart for the task of church leadership. I think that God gives the pastor a special something when it comes to doing His work. His minister has to edify and build up the whole congregation.
John Calvin recognized the importance of an "inner" or "secret" call, an inner urgency, in those who should be set apart for church leadership. Yet, that call is always connected to a person's discernible gifts or recognized potential strengths. The preacher must be gifted, called, and equipped for the work of the ministry by the Lord. When one thinks of the "call" to preach the Word of God, there are some things to consider.
First of all, the call is individual or personal. This is a matter between each Christian and his or her Lord and Master. One must have some heart to heart dealings with the Lord. God and the called individual must have some serious one on one time. There is no mass production of preachers. It is in an atmosphere of spirituality that gives birth to the call. When the soul is enjoying fellowship with God through the reading and meditation of the Word and spending some time in prayer, the call usually comes in the midst of Christian activity. Lazy Christians do not receive such a call.
Throughout the Holy Scripture, the call was extended to those who were already engaged in some type of work. Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro when God called him on the backside of the desert (Exodus 3:1-3). Gideon was threshing wheat when he was called to deliver Israel from her enemies (Judges 6:11). Elisha was plowing when the mantle of Elijah was thrown on his shoulders (I Kings 19:19). Peter was busy with his fishing and Matthew was doing his business when they were called into service for Christ (Matthew 4:18-19; Luke 5:27).
Secondly, the call is definite. Yes, it has been established that the "call" comes in various ways and under different circumstances it is distinct. The believer is assured that God desires him or her for a specific work. The Lord has promised to be with His servants. He will sustain those whom He calls.
Thirdly, the call does not necessarily involve full time service. That is why it so important to understand your call.
The late Christian psychologist and author, Roy W. Fairchild lists some practical ways of discerning your gifts and call:
1. No one is prepared to sense a secret call except through the inner journey of prayer. Prayer requires a reflective mind and a contemplative heart that reviews one's life honestly in the presence of God and tries to discern where the decisions, coincidences, events, people, suffering, and experiences of one's gifts seem to be leading one. Where is the hand of God pointing?
2. Superb resources for discerning one's strengths and avoiding self-deception are available through denominational agencies.
3. Make arrangements with a pastor you know or want to know, to observe him or her for a week or two, entering into as many of his or her activities, meetings, and experiences as feasible. There is nothing quite like such experiences to give you a sense of realism about professional church work and its possibilities and perils.
4. Become engaged deeply in the local congregation, and study the way it evokes the gifts of it members, supports them, and equips them for ministry. Get to know several dedicated Christians well enough to hear their life stories about their gifts and how they are using them in their lives and the work of the church.
When you sense the Lord is calling you into the preaching ministry and you have received confirmation from the Holy Spirit, ask yourself some hard questions. What is God saying to me? Am I sure that I am hearing the voice of the Lord? What is God calling me to do? If you are sure the Lord is calling you to preach the gospel, what kind of preacher are you supposed to be? Is God calling you to be a Senior or Lead Pastor? Being a pastor is only one aspect of being called into the gospel ministry. Are you more gifted to be an Executive Pastor or a Pastor of Administration? What about working as a Minister of Christian Education? Do you have a heart for Youth Ministry or Senior Adult Ministry? Maybe you are called to be the Pastor's Armor Bearer. Are you willing to give your whole self to the call of ministry? Can the Lord have your mind, body, and soul?
It was theologian, Dietrich Bonhoffer who said, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die."
Sermon Outline By Dr. Paul D. Stevens, Sr.
The Pastor and His Inescapable Duty I Corinthians 6:16
We see in our text that the pastor has an inescapable duty. There are many people who try to shun their duties on their secular jobs. They find excuses and reasons why they do not perform their given tasks. People can become pretty creative when it comes to getting out of doing their job. Even in the church, there are those who try to escape their duties. But the preacher cannot shirk his or her responsibilities.
1. The Preacher is Called of God v 16a "The pastor is God's gift to the church..."
2. The Preacher is Compelled to Preach v 16b "... necessity is laid upon me."
3. The Preacher is Rewarded by God v 17 "For if I do this willingly, I have a reward."
Chapter TwoDon't Be Afraid of Their Faces: Handling Critics
"Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord." Jeremiah 1:8
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The pastor must be aware of the fact that being a pastor is not always as sweet as it looks. There are times when the pastor must deal with some hard headed, stiff-necked people. When God called Jeremiah, he was only a child. He was intimidated by the people because of his age. But God reassured Jeremiah that he had been sanctified and ordained to be a prophet before he came out of his mother's womb. The Lord let Jeremiah know that there was no need to fear the people because of His presence. Pastors must be aware that the Lord is with us, no matter whom we have to face in our ministry settings. If God is for you who can be against you?
All pastors must realize that they will come across people in their respective ministries who are not the kindest people in the world. There are parishioners who are just mean and surly. Some of the meanest and nastiest people I have ever met were people I have pastored. I used to become upset with people when they were mean and rude to me. Then I realized that they were not angry with me, they were angry with the title I had, that of pastor. Some people are just anti-clerical. Preachers and pastors are just not respected by them. I have learned to let the Lord deal with these disobedient rebels.
Pastors will also meet and deal with people who think they are in charge of the church. These are the kind of people who want to tell the pastor how to run the church. These self-appointed authorities think they have it all together. Just because they were born and bred in the congregation does not automatically give them the right to be the Head Honcho in charge. They will try to use scare tactics and flaunt their influential muscles in the church to get their way. Pastors must be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a dove when dealing with such people. In other words, the pastor must have a discerning spirit when it comes to leading people. The pastor cannot be afraid of their faces.
I cannot help but think about God's blessings upon Solomon when he became king of Israel. In I Kings Chapter 3, Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom to lead His people.
"So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" (I Kings 3:9)
Because of this request, the Lord was pleased with Solomon. So the Lord granted Solomon both wisdom and riches. Everything we need to know about pastoring and leading God's people is available to us by the Lord. The Lord gives wisdom to those who ask for it.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5).
I shall never forget the first church I was called to pastor in a small Texas border city. This was a small congregation with loving people who were willing to give a 26 year old a chance to pastor them. Although I loved this church and its people, there is one thing I didn't like. There was a painting of Jesus on the cross that hung over the baptistry. It was a grotesque painting. On this painting, Jesus was not pierced in the side, but pierced in the neck. The eyes were evil looking, and just not an appealing painting. I inquired about the painting and was told that a deceased member painted it and gave it to the church and how wonderful it was. I knew having this painting removed from the sanctuary would be a sensitive and delicate matter. I had to be tactful in the way I addressed this situation.
I knew that I had to be bold and take a stance about the painting. It was just not a good depiction of the crucifixion. I was not afraid of the people because God had not given me a spirit of fear. The best way to implement change was to be biblical. I had the church read Exodus 20:4.
"You shall not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below" (Exodus 20:4).
The scripture was received by the people and the next Sunday when I arrived at the church, the painting was removed. I expressed my appreciation of the church's obedience to God's Word and to their God given leader. If that situation would have been handled by an insensitive and authoritative pastor, it could have gotten ugly.
What if I had been afraid of the people? I believe that there are many pastors who are leading out of fear. Their ministries are not effective or thriving because they are not following God's lead, but man's lead. They are afraid to upset the people in the congregation, particularly the power brokers in the church. Do not be deceived, every church has so-called power-brokers. I think it is wonderful to have influential people in the church, if their influence can be used in a positive way. Their influence can help the church move forward in the kingdom's work if it is used to the glory of God. But when the influential people of the church are calling the shots, then there is a problem. God called the pastor to be the head and not the tail.
Pastors must be alert and aware that every church has pastor / preacher fighters. Preacher fighters are the most vicious congregants in a church. These fighters of the man or woman of God have the most hateful spirit I have ever seen. Another name for them are Hell-raisers. They are against everything the pastor says and does. They have only one response to the pastor and his vision. Their response is no. Fighters do not listen and do not try to understand the pastor's motivation, vision, or viewpoints. They just love to say no to his leadership. What is so sad about these Hell-raisers is that they are proud of who they are. They wear their twisted mentality as a badge of honor.
Excerpted from Where Do Pastors Go to Cry? by Pastor Paul D. Stevens Copyright © 2012 by Pastor Paul D. Stevens, D.Min. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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