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…we really should try not to make such figures [Christian sport stars and celebrities] into those to whom we look for leadership and guidance. That role should be fulfilled by the elders in your local church and the experienced saints whom you know personally and with whom you have an actual relationship. Tim Tebow has, as far as I know, been called by no-one to be a teacher in the church. Certainly his example has inspired and encouraged many; and there is nothing wrong with that. But we must remember that being an inspiring example is one thing; being someone to whom we look for Christian leadership is quite another. The latter is really the role of those who have received the external call from a congregation and who have thus been proven to have the biblical qualifications for leadership and who are also formally accountable to the church.
From Ray Ortlund,
“And who and what are ministers themselves? Frail men, fallible, sinning men, exposed to every snare, to temptation in every form; and from the very post of observation they occupy, the fairer mark for the fiery darts of the foe. They are no mean victims the great Adversary is seeking, when he would wound and cripple Christ’s ministers. One such victim is worth more to the kingdom of darkness than a score of common men; and on this very account, the temptations are probably more subtle and severe than those encountered by ordinary Christians. If this subtle Deceiver fails to destroy them, he artfully aims at neutralizing their influence by quenching the fervor of their piety, lulling them into negligence, and doing all in his power to render their work irksome. How perilous the condition of that minister then, whose heart is not encouraged, whose hands are not strengthened, and who is not upheld by the prayers of his people! It is not in his own closet and on his own knees alone that he finds security and comfort and ennobling, humbling and purifying thoughts and joys; but it is when his people also seek them in his behalf that he becomes a better and happier man and a more useful minister of the everlasting gospel.”
Gardiner Spring, The Power of the Pulpit (Edinburgh, 1986), pages 223-224.
If your pastor is struggling, and you are not praying for him, the failure is yours too. If your pastor is succeeding, and you are praying for him, the victory is yours together.
This is a very convicting listed given by Derek Brown. Its main aim is students at a theological school (bible or seminary). Yet, I don’t believe that it is wrong to say that there isn’t something in here for everyone. Give each point a read and see if it can’t apply to you in some way.
- 1. Cultivate pride by writing only to impress your professors instead of writing to better understand and more clearly communicate truth.
- 2. Perfect the fine art of corner-cutting by not really researching for a paper but instead writing your uneducated and unsubstantiated opinions and filling them in with strategically placed footnotes.
- 3. Mistake the amount of education you receive with the actual knowledge you obtain. Keep telling yourself, “I’ll really start learning this stuff when I do my Th.M or my Ph.D.”
- 4. Nurture an attitude of superiority, competition, and condescension toward fellow seminary students. Secretly speak ill of them with friends and with your spouse.
- 5. Regularly question the wisdom and competency of your professors. Find ways to disrespect your professors by questioning them publicly in class and by trying to make them look foolish.
- 6. Neglect personal worship, Bible reading and prayer.
- 7. Don’t evangelize your neighbors.
- 8. Practice misquoting and misrepresenting positions and ideas you don’t agree with. Be lazy and don’t attempt to understand opposing views; instead, nurse your prejudices and exalt your opinions by superficial reading and listening.
- 9. Give your opinion as often as possible – especially in class. Ask questions that show off your knowledge instead of questions that demonstrate a genuine inquiry.
- 10. Speak of heretical movements, teachers, and doctrine with an air of disdain and levity.
- 11. Find better things to do than serve in your local church.
- 12. Fill your life with questionable movies, television, internet, and music.
- 13. Set aside fellowship and accountability with fellow brothers in Christ.
- 14. Let your study of divine things become dull, boring, lifeless, and mundane.
- 15. Chip away at your integrity by signing your school’s covenant and then breaking it under the delusion that, “Those rules are legalistic anyway.”
- 16. Don’t read to learn; read only to refute what you believe is wrong.
- 17. Convince yourself that you already know all this stuff.
- 18. Just study. Don’t exercise, spend time with your family, or work.
- 19. Save major papers for the last possible moment so that you can ensure that you don’t really learn anything by writing them.
- 20. Don’t waste your time forming friendships with your professors and those older and wiser than you.
- 21. Make the mistake of thinking that your education guarantees your success in ministry.
- 22. Don’t study devotionally. You’ll never make it as a big time scholar if you do that. Scholars need to be cool, detached, and unbiased – certainly not Jesus freaks.
- 23. Day dream about future opportunities to the point that you get nothing out of your current opportunity to learn God’s Word.
- 24. Do other things while in class instead of listening – like homework, scheduling, letter-writing, and email.
- 25. Spend more time blogging than studying.
- 26. Avoid chapel and other opportunities for corporate worship.
- 27. Argue angrily with those who don’t see things your way. Whatever you do, don’t read and meditate on II Timothy 2:24-26 and James 3:13-18 as you prepare for ministry.
- 28. Set your hopes on an easy, cushy pastorate for when you graduate. Determine now not to obey God when he calls you to serve in a difficult church.
- 29. Look forward to the day when you won’t have to concern yourself with all this theology and when you will be able to just “preach Jesus.”
- 30. Forget that your primary responsibility is care for your family through provision, shepherding, and leadership.
- 31. Master Calvin, Owen, and Edwards, but not the Law, Prophets, and Apostles.
- 32. Gain knowledge in order to merely teach others. Don’t expend the effort it takes to deal with your own heart.
- 33. Pick apart your pastor’s sermons every week. Only point out his mistakes and his poor theological reasoning so you don’t have to be convicted by anything he says.
- 34. Protect yourself from real fellowship by only talking about theology and never about your personal spiritual issues, sin, and struggles.
- 35. Comfort yourself with the delusion that you will start seriously dealing with sin as soon as you become a pastor; right now it’s not really that big a deal.
- 36. Don’t serve the poor, visit the sick, or care for widows and orphans – save that stuff for the uneducated, non-seminary trained, lay Christians.
- 37. Keep telling yourself that you want to preach, but don’t ever seek opportunities to preach, especially at local rescue missions and nursing homes. Wait until your church candidacy to preach your first sermon.
- 38. Let envy keep you from profiting from sermons preached by fellow students.
- 39. Resent behind-the-scenes, unrecognized service. Only serve in areas where you are sure you will receive praise and accolades.
- 40. Appear spiritual and knowledgeable at all costs. Don’t let others see your imperfections and ignorance, even if it means you have to lie.
- 41. Love books and theology and ministry more than the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 42. Let your passion for the gospel be replaced by passion for complex doctrinal speculation.
- 43. Become angry, resentful and devastated when you receive something less than an A.
- 44. Let your excitement for ministry increase or decrease in direct proportion to the accolades or criticisms you receive from your professors.
- 45. Don’t really try to learn the languages – let Bible Works do all the work for you.
This email struck me about the beauty of pastoring and ministering at a church for a long time. It was sent to Brian Croft, pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church here in Louisville, KY.
It was great to run across your blog. The posts that I read show a true shepherd’s heart. Curtis Thomas not only showed us the way of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, he discipled us. He held me the day I was born. He was with me when I killed my first deer. He pronounced my wife and I to be married in the sight of the Lord. He was with me when my (6) children were born. He stood alongside me as my father died, and we both preached the Gospel at his funeral. And I had the privilege of teaching and evangelizing with him in south-east Asia. All this to say; be a shepherd like him. The impact on three generations of my family is absolutely the most profound influence we have received aside from God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. Truly making disciples means a lifelong commitment, and I am just one example. So I encourage you, as you pastor, to imitate this type of disciple making with your people.
HT: Brian Croft
There is a beauty in longevity. Plodding along in faithful ministry for years and years. And in those years there are times of great encouragement with constant valleys of discouragement. How many times did Curtis Thomas think that his ministry was fruitless? That his flock would never get out of a dry period? That all his work was going unnoticed? If he was like anyone else in the ministry it is safe to say that thoughts like those were frequent visitors. Yet, faithfulness pays off, even when the payment goes unnoticed by the one being faithful. And when those who have lived under the dispensation of someone’s faithful works for a long time they will testify to the beauty of it.
Note: I was just alerted to Brian Crofts blog not to long ago. It looks to be a blog that anyone in pastoral or future pastor ministry should visit frequently. He blogs about diferent aspects of pastoral ministry and gives very wise advise about them.