I served as a senior pastor for fourteen years in Ohio prior to becoming a seminary professor in 1996. To be honest, I think often about those days. I realize the Lord has not placed me in the role of pastor for this season of life, but I miss shepherding a local church.
I know pastoring includes tough days. Sometimes “power players” are a thorn in a pastor’s side. Sermon preparation is time consuming. Many church members struggle with change that threatens the status quo. Nevertheless, here are some of the reasons I would return to pastoring if the Lord so allowed.
- The pastor’s responsibility carries eternal significance. A quick reading of Hebrews 13:17b makes this point clear: “they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account” (HCSB). Pastors are undershepherds called to care for and lead the flock entrusted to them. The responsibility is huge – but so is the privilege.
- A pastor shares all of life with others. The pastor is often one of the first to celebrate a birth. He’s invited to celebrate birthdays, graduations, promotions . . . and most importantly, Christian conversion. He provides a shoulder in times of difficulty, and he’s there when death occurs. To my knowledge, no one else has this level of opportunity to walk through life with others.
- A pastor preaches the Word each week to a particular church family. He gets to help a congregation understand the Word from Genesis to Revelation. Each week, he has opportunity to dig into the Scriptures and then help a local body of Christ understand and apply them well. What a blessing to see eyes light up when a believer learns a new truth from the Word!
- The pastor sees the transforming power of the gospel at work. Sometimes, he is one of the few persons who know another person’s sin history – and thus he knows best the power of the gospel. Yes, he has seen tragedy, but he has also seen families restored, wayward children returning, addicts set free, the weak made strong, and the lost redeemed.
- A pastor has opportunity to learn from others. The pastor is a teacher, but he also has a congregation who might teach him as well. I love the nations today because a missions leader in my church told me as a young pastor, “If you’re going to be our preacher, you need to be committed to missions.” Another leader introduced me to the importance of small groups. I’m a better man today because church members have taught me through the years.
- A pastor’s work touches the world. The pastor preaches the Word and shepherds the sheep – and those sheep share the gospel with their neighbors and the nations. Some give their lives to full-time missionary service, and others serve as short-term volunteers. The gospel flourishes somewhere today because a pastor challenged a church to take seriously the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).
- Pastors do not work alone. God not only calls pastors to the role, but He also empowers them to fulfill their calling through His indwelling Spirit. God then builds His church (Matt. 16:18), giving a pastor members of the Body to walk with him and serve beside him. Pastoral work may be lonely at times, but pastors are never alone.
- There is always a better day coming. Undoubtedly, pastors face difficult challenges. Hope, though, is never lost. Pastors who preach faith also have the privilege of marching forward in faith. God still reigns, and He will complete His plan.
What do you love about pastoring? If you are a layperson, what do you appreciate about what your pastor does?