Pastoral Suicide

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, WITH COMPLETE PATIENCE and teaching. -2 Timothy 4:2

Pastoral work requires that we are incredibly patient. The problem is that I am not patient. I want to see results yesterday. I want to see big things happen. Is this all bad? No. But it can cause me to stop following in the ways of Jesus and instead to try to make things happen in a short period of time that quite honestly may take weeks, months, years or decades!

The following quote is found in Zach Eswine’s book, “The Imperfect Pastor”. Zach is quoting Eugene Peterson.

“I think the besetting sin of pastors, maybe especially evangelical pastors, is impatience. We have a goal. We have a mission. We’re going to save the world. We’re going to evangelize everybody, and we’re going to do all this good stuff and fill our churches. This is wonderful. All the goals are right. But this is slow, slow work, this soul work….and we get impatient and start taking shortcuts.”

Pastoral impatience is suicide. It kills our spirit. It makes us speed up when God wants us to slow down and just spend time with him. Impatience will lead me to believe that my ministry needs to look like….you can fill in the blank. Impatience leads me to believe that I am more powerful than God and that I have the power to make the kingdom of God flourish in my city.

Here is my reminder to myself. Jesus spent 3 years with 12 guys who continually struggled and never seemed to get their lives all together. Jesus was relational. Jesus was personal. Jesus spent long amounts of time with people. It is the kind of time that leadership gurus would say was wasted time. Jesus was busy but he was never impatient. I have to continually remind myself to follow in the slow, steady, quiet ways of Jesus.

I am going to be here in Watertown for a LONG period of time. I am going to commit to love the amazing people of New Life (and this city) the same way that Jesus Christ loves me. Patiently. Tenderly. With tons of grace. Not merely trying to make great things happen but spending our lives together as a church family.

Pic taken from familyfarmsgroupsdotcom


The Pastor’s Justification (The Confident Pastor)

the pastors justificationThis chapter is so good I am going to break it into sections…

The Confident Pastor (Chapter 4)

“One thing pastoral ministry is very good for is stripping a man of all his confidence.” (p. 77)

At the beginning of chapter four Wilson explains how frustrating ministry can be. The married couple that refuses to embrace the gospel and the result is that their family life is in constant turmoil. Problems, issues, complaints, selfishness, a lack of missional focus. It feels like we are on a treadmill and it can be hard to see the progress at times.

As I have said previously, Wilson is not allowing pastors to have a pity party because of the challenges of ministry. I love this quote…

“Perhaps this is what pastoral ministry is supposed to look like? Maybe applying the gospel to those in the holes they keep falling into IS THE MISSION (emphasis added). Or part of it, anyway. Jesus says, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23), so we should expect that every day feels like death and be shocked if and when we experience a day that doesn’t. But Evangelicals have so effectively promoted the idol of success that it is rare to find a pastor who understands that starting over each day is ministry.” (p. 78)

The temptation is to see all the messiness as a barrier to where we want to go as a visionary leader. Instead, the mess is the mission. The broken marriage, the broken lives, the frustrations are waiting for us to apply the truths of the gospel each and every day. We won’t wake up one morning and realize we have arrived. As Eugene Peterson likes to say, pastoral ministry (discipleship for that matter) is a “long obedience in the same direction.”