A Pastor's Seminar
Let’s try to deduce from Scripture some of the specific character qualities that all disciples/leaders should have growing in their life.
The tendency when describing a leader is to look at outward appearances, actions, or gifts. It is interesting to note, however, that outward manifestations are rarely if ever mentioned in choosing leaders in the early church. For instance, the passages dealing with elders and deacons focuses on character qualities. Let’s look then at specific spiritual qualities that need to be developed in maturing Christians and leaders.
The book of Hebrews was probably written during the time of real persecution, late A.D. 60. Most likely it was written to Jewish Christians who were drifting, ready to give up their faith and return to the Jewish faith. The author wanted these Jewish Christians to know how superior their Christian faith was, how much better it was than Judaism. His encouragement was to have faith and endure.
Likewise, today after believers' newfound faith is tested, there is the temptation to drift/return to a former lifestyle—before Christ or before leadership responsibilities. The parable of the sower reminds us that the sun always comes up to test the soil.
This session will share something from my personal pilgrimage, as well as from the life of the Apostle Paul as seen in Second Corinthians. Many who go through an emotional upheaval in their lives end up adding to their problems by the way they handle their emotions. They may say to themselves: "you shouldn't be experiencing what you are going through. It is not right to be in such a state." One of the finest examples of emotional health is exemplified in 2 Corinthians. Paul shared his emotions and concerns for the Corinthians, and we will see the result was not a weakening of their relationship, but rather, his vulnerability contributed to a very positive strengthening of their bond. We will study a number of upheaval words in this book. They are words that express deep emotion, distress, and trouble. We will then get a definition of the word and see the cause of, the cure for, and the consequences of each of these emotional situations.
A recent survey revealed:
- 1 of 3 feels burned out within the first 5 years of ministry
- 75% have reported a significant crisis due to stress at least once in their ministry.
Pastors need to take this area seriously and develop a Theology of Self-Care. Carl George: "One in five pastors is physically and/or emotionally 'burned out.' He or she hasn't stopped functioning altogether yet, but pastors who are burned out have lost the zest for ministry; they 'go through the motions' day after day; but with little joy, and with greatly reduced capability for effective service. The sad part of this is that pastors who burn out are among our most dedicated and committed clergy.
Here is an essential truth for leadership:
The heart and ministry of a leader are inseparable.
If we intend to be effective and reflect the lordship of Christ in our leadership, then we need to constantly remind ourselves of the relationship between these two. To put it another way: what I do is a reflection of who I am. Or, the outer life of service is sustained by an inner life of devotion.
What do we expect from a great leader? I'm sure the people of any congregation could compile quite a list of expectations, but would it reflect what God desires from the leadership of His church?
Rather than living their lives to please a "list," pastors and spiritual leaders need a job description that is not influenced by opinion, experience, or a caricature of a pastor. In 1 Thessalonians chapters 1 and 2, we have Paul's heart and ministry, modeled and described. From this amazing story and example we can deduce what a spiritual leader's job description should look like, and/or what his cumulative resume might contain. This passage also tells us why the Thessalonians stayed true and the church grew at a remarkable pace. It didn't just happen; certain elements made it strong.
The Cure for Ineffective Ministry
1 Timothy 4:11-16
If you have ever thought of quitting the ministry and mailing back your ordination papers, I want to give you a word of consolation. You are not the first to feel the frustration of a full court press. In fact, when Paul writes his first letter to his young associate, Timothy, he wants to encourage him to continue in the ministry and not give up. To that end, he spells out how people should behave in the church and the key priorities of a pastor. In essence, the apostle tells Timothy that in a time of trial and testing, he had better get back to fundamentals and make first things central. Thus, in 1 Timothy 4, Paul spells out for his young friend (and through Timothy, for us) the priority of ministry that will encourage the people of God to respect and respond to us.
One of my favorite stories of a race happened a number of years ago when I asked a newly recommitted young man to come in for an appointment. Kevin, now one of our associate pastors, accepted. When he got to my office, I told him I wanted to go to a race—my son's. I often take young men I'm interested in discipling to an event or a meeting, because it is easier to converse.
There are times when it is good for pastors/leaders to go "aside" with the Lord to receive special instruction and encouragement, as well as to establish what their priorities should be—Mark 4:34; 9:30-32. More often than not, however, when a pastor attempts to spend such a time, those moments are interrupted—Mark 6:30-33.