A Good Read

Over Christmas, I was actually able to read some and was blessed and encouraged by reading David Horner's A Practical Guide for Life and Ministry: Overcoming 7 Challenges Pastors Face. David Horner is the Lead Pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC. The book contains sound, biblical, encouraging and convicting wisdom for pastors and this was both convicted and encouraged. I wanted to share a few quotes that stood out to me.

On the Calling of a Pastor:

The good news is that God never intended for pastors to try to satisfy the demands of every model for ministry ever developed. He did not call you to crush you. God calls you to engage in a lifetime of effective, satisfying ministry in which he maximizes your spiritual gifts, considers your calling (not someone else's), recognizes your strengths and weakenesse, and commits to shaping you into a godly individual who grows more mature every day in your walk with Jesus Christ.

Our calling will often be misunderstood, challenged, and even attacked by those who see pastoral calling as a one-size-fits-all issue. The churches we serve will have stated and unstated unexpectations about the particular calling they envision for their pastor. Individuals within those churches will further complicate matters by adding their own expectations to the mix and keep us, as pastors, off balance by their constant questions about why we do not do what 'pastors shold do.' If that is not expasperating enough, deep down inside we wonder if perhaps they are right and we are not cutting it as a pastor. Talk about adding guilt on top of confusion! No wonder pastors have a hard time keeping their equilibrium!

You may ask, 'Since my calling is from God, should I be unconcerned about the expectations people have?' No, that is unrealistic. You cannot simply ignore them, but you do not have to satisfy them...Eventually I discovered what every pastor must learn: my calling is from God, and my equipping is from him as well.

Just because we are willing to do anything does not mean that we should do everything.

On Vision

As the shepherd of the flock charged with leading your congregation, you have been placed by God in a position of strategic importance. Without leadership, the status quo becomes the vision. Therefore, developing a vision falls to the pastor and his...leadership team in order for the church to make progress in its calling to be made complete in Christ.

Lots of roadside standshave been erected on side streets because once passionate dreamers and visionaries found the main road to their dreams too touch and decided to settle for the place they landed when they fell asleep. When pastors and churches begin with the assumption that numerical growth is the only validation of effective ministry, for example, that presupposition can lead to compromise on important issues in order to attract people. Theological assumptions will give way to more practical and popular ones.

The Lord has given no vision, nor has he inspired any dream that can be realized without prayer. Never settle for any dream you can plot out and plan from beginning to end without any aspect of mystery. Dreams that require no walking by faith may be achievable, but they are unlikely to be expansive enough for the glory of the Lord to be made known through them.

Pastors cannot forge an identity as a pastor without first making sure they are living up to their identity as a Christian. Perhaps the surest and quickest test of the godly validity of your vision is to consider how sharply focused it is on Christ and how deeply rooted it is in his Word.

Nothing else matters more than to know that where we are going, Christ is, that what we are doing, Christ honors, and that how we are doing it, Christ applauds. Simply put, Christ Jesus is our vision and must remain so even as the rest of the details unfold before us.

My own vision of ministry primarily has to do with equipping, not evangelizing. Yet if I am to understand my vision in full balance as God wants it to be, part of my committment to equipping will always include training and preparing and teaching others believers how they can be actively involved in being witnesses for Jesus Christ.

When God gives a vision, it will always be proportionate to the majesty of God...If our vision as pastors is only to be a little more spiritually minded and a little less sinful than the world around us and a little less ambitious than the pagan junior executive, we may well succeed, and in so doing prove to know nothing of a vision from the Lord. If our vision is to keep from becoming fanatical about walking with Christ, careful not to become too concerned about being distinguished as holy unto the Lord, once again we may progress toward such shallow dreams but never know the glory of living in his way.

On Spiritual Leadership

It is far better to weather the storms upfront, during the selection process, than face years of unresolved conflict if unqualifed leaders take their place on the team. The standards of spiritual leadership cannot be compromised if you expect to enjoy fruitful years of ministry in a loving, growing community of like-minded teammates.

On Conflict as a Pastor

You know, there will always be cellar voices in the church. For them, nothing you ever do will be good enough, nothing will ever be right. But then there will always be balcony voices. They love everything...all the time...they take great pleasure in pumping you up. Still, the truth always tend to be on the main floor.

Who we are before God matters far more than what we want others to think of us.

As a pastor you are not called to protect and defend yourself but to proclaim Christ. If you succeed in destroying your attacker, then you have failed to shepherd someone in your flock.

Your role as a pastor is to lead the entire flock, not just those who agree with you...Although you cannot keep others from seeing you as their enemy, you can determine to never reciprocate and view them that way.

In light of eternity, how big a deal is it that not everyone likes who you are and what you do?

Although you are committed to the flock allotted to you, and you love them all, your primary calling is to serve Christ and enjoy His favor, not to serve in such a way that you curry the favor of the crowd. No one likes to do things that consistently upset people, but the bottom line is that we are not in ministry for the applause and approval of the people we serve. We are to be devoted to Christ first and foremost. It is for Christ that we do what we do, and it is ultimately to him that we will answer.

So if you know that you are doing what he wants, and as a result you stir up the ire of those around you, so be it. Basing your ministry on the eternal truth and unchanging principles of God's Word will seldom be without critics, of for that matter seldom ever be popular. But it is the Lord Jesus Christ whom we serve, and if he himself was hated, why should we be surprised when we run into opposition as well?

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