Perseverance in Pastoral Ministry

Often it is only by persevering through severe trials that divine blessings come to rest on a pastor’s labors.

It is extremely valuable, if not essential, for a pastor to accept a call to serve a church with a willingness and desire to spend his life in that place. This is not to say that the Lord will never move him to another place, but such an attitude will always put the burden of proof on the move. And controversy in and of itself, is rarely a sufficient reason for a pastor to move on.

 

It’s common wisdom among pastors that no important decision should be made on a Monday. Especially a Monday morning. The nature of pastoral work causes the Lord’s Day to be a day that typically requires a great expenditure of physical, emotional and spiritual energy for a man who gives himself to regular pastoral preaching. Standing before a church that is gathered together with unbelievers, knowing that they expect and need to hear the Word of God accurately and helpfully proclaimed is a weighty responsibility. Preaching is spiritual warfare and it is a rare Lord’s Day that I do not go home painfully aware of the attacks of our enemy that have come before, during and after my efforts in preaching. I suspect that most preachers know something of what I am talking about.

The result is that most pastors are not at their fighting best on Mondays. I have probably resigned my pastorate a hundred times in my mind…on Mondays. Fortunately, it only takes a little experience to recognize this pattern and to guard against putting too much stock in Monday-morning contemplations of life-decisions.

But trying to decide whether to stay or to leave at other times can be just as emotionally and spiritually taxing on a pastor–especially during times of conflict in the church. When the conflict in any way centers on him, the trial is compounded all-the-more. It is not unusual from time-to-time for there to be people in the church who want the pastor to leave. Perhaps as a result of a difference of opinion or a doctrinal disagreement, although too often the reasons are not nearly that noble.

While no one can authoritatively say that it is never right for a pastor to leave a church as a result of opposition, my own opinion is that too many pastors tend to leave too quickly when tensions arise in among the congregation. I understand the temptation and even the rationale that often enters into the pastor’s thinking. “I don’t want the church to be split.” “I don’t want to be the cause of such fighting.” “If I leave, then fewer people will be hurt.” These and other motives can be humble and testimony to great love for the people.

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