The Work of the Pastor

Staying faithful to our work as pastors.

Still offers practical, solid advice that can only come from someone with much experience in ministry: on expecting opposition, experiencing early fruits, handling problem people, managing expectations, dealing with our own tendencies, and more.

 

I love learning from old, faithful pastors. We’re often drawn to the young and charismatic. I’m learning we need the veterans who served and finished well.

William Still was such a pastor. He served for forty years (1945 until shortly before his death in 1997) in Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen, Scotland. Still gave five lectures on pastoral ministry in 1964 and 1965, which became the basis for his book The Work of the Pastor.

Still has a simple purpose: to remind pastors to focus on the main thing, and to not get discouraged or distracted. During his own ministry, the church he pastored experienced revitalization: many were covered, and many sent out as ministers.

The contents of the book are simple:

  • Chapter one outlines the main task of pastors: to feed the sheep (including, sometimes, to evangelize the goats). Even if the congregation does not want it, this is our job. Things happen when the Word is preached, so we must gear our whole lives to this task. No gimmicks, but simply a focus on the Word and prayer.
  • Chapter two describes the work of the pastor outside of the pulpit: how to handle problem people, counsel those who need help, set expectations, and more.
  • Chapter three emphasizes that while the Word of God is eternal, it is also suitable and contemporary for our day. We must ransack the entire Word, feeding our people a balanced diet “saturated in the living, up-to-date grace of God by His Spirit.”
  • Chapter four discusses hazards we might face in our own local situations: overemphasizing certain emphases; obsessing over evangelism at the expense of other ministry; becoming distracted by outside ministry; and more.
  • Chapter five talks about the tightrope or tensions of ministry: we must learn from the past and yet serve in the present, be in the world but not of it, learn from books and yet live among people, hold to both doctrine and action, and more. Still offers some practical guidelines to help us.

Still offers practical, solid advice that can only come from someone with much experience in ministry: on expecting opposition, experiencing early fruits, handling problem people, managing expectations, dealing with our own tendencies, and more.

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