I’m reading through a very challenging book by William Still entitled, “The Work of the Pastor.” Still was pastor for fifty years in Aberdeen, Scotland and geared his ministry around the clear exposition of Holy Scripture. This book is a series of talks he gave to a pastors association, and he pulls no punches. Here is one clear example:
Remember that ‘pastoring,’ meaning ‘pasturing,’ essentially has to do with feeding the flock. Let me go on to say most reverently that the task of the Christian shepherd is to fatten the sheep for the kill. In Israel that meant for sacrifice in the Temple. By ‘the kill’ I mean, of course, consecration. Our trouble in my own congregation is that the Lord so speedily pounces upon people whom He has sent along to be built up in the faith, that we sometimes have a hard time keeping together a working nucleus.
But to the field of pastoral ministry. It would seem that many Christian ministers accept pastorates or charges as a mean of basic security … and they use this as a jumping off place for the pursuit of their pet interests in one or other of a hundred associated fields. The interest may be the application of the Gospel (or what they know, or understand, or even misunderstand of it) to politics, social service, the ecumenical movement, evangelistic work in a general inter- or non-denominational sort of way. Or it may be the running of a complex of organizations in their own church, etc. Many men make names for themselves in these pursuits as speakers, organizers, writers, good committee members, even as entertainers. They sustain a calling almost independent of, or that has very little to do with, the task of pastoral ministry of feeding their sheep, from which they derive their daily bread.
… Too many ministers find other things to do, either because they do not like the pastoral ministry, and find it too hard, or because it creates too many problems working with people, or because they have gone cold and dead on it and it doesn’t cut much ice, and they are discouraged. Ministers must do something to justify themselves, to boost their ego and express and fulfill themselves. If they devote themselves to running large organizations, or spend their time forever a round of vain visiting, they feel that they are doing something. Whereas if they devote themselves to the study and ministry of the Word of God, they create all sorts of problems for themselves and jangle many of their people, until their fellowships are soon a dither of change and challenge (p. 85-86).
I found this challenging. Do we as ministers justify getting into other activities because we, deep down, don’t like being in the trenches of Great Commission gospel ministry? Is this why we do Facebook and Twitter because we need an escape?
This challenged me to see that my first priority is my calling as a pastor and minister of the Gospel at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church. What are your thoughts?