He carried with him the dirty secret that many pastors carry; the one that is so hard for a "man of faith" to admit. The dirty secret was that much of what he did was not done out of faith, but out of fear.
What traits does the awe of God produce in the heart of a pastor that are vital for an effective, God-honoring, and productive ministry? Here is a list of six.4 comments
It is hard to overstate the importance of functional awe of God to your ministry. Awe of God is one thing that will keep a church from running off its rails and being diverted by the many agendas that can sidetrack any congregation.10 comments
The question that ended my last article begins this one. Could there be a greater danger in ministry than the one leading the ministry losing his awe? Let me explain.45 comments
What powerful words of warning to everyone in ministry of any type: "the great danger lies precisely in his constant contact with divine things." What is the danger? Familiarity with the things of God will cause you to lose your awe.12 comments
It took God employing hardship for me to embrace the inescapable reality that everything I did in ministry was done in allegiance to, and in pursuit of, either the kingdom of self or the kingdom of God.5 comments
I didn't just give way to the temptation to let pastoral ministry become my identity. I fell into two other temptations as well. I let biblical literacy and theological knowledge define my maturity.
I was a pastor in the process of destroying his life and ministry, and I didn't know it. I wish I could say that my pastoral experience is unique, but I have come to learn in travels to hundreds of churches around the world that sadly, it is not. Sure, the details are unique, but I see in many pastors the same disconnect between the public persona and the private man.12 comments
I don't think you could say more dangerous words than those found in the Lord's Prayer. I don't think you could pray a more radical prayer. Probably most of us, even in ministry, would hesitate to say these words if we really understood what we were saying. We would at least pause before repeating this prayer if we clearly understood that we were actually inviting upheaval into our lives and ministries.68 comments
The longer you're in pastoral ministry, the more you move from being an astronaut to an archaeologist. When you're young, you're excitedly launching to worlds unknown. You have all of the major decisions of life and ministry before you, and you can spend your time assessing your potential and considering opportunities. It's a time of exploration and discovery. It's a time to go where you've never been before and do what you've never done. It's a time to begin to use your training and gain experience.2 comments
I want to begin this column with where the last one ended. We must be careful how we define ministry readiness and spiritual maturity. There is a danger in thinking that the well-educated and trained seminary graduate is ministry ready or to mistake knowledge, busyness, and skill with personal spiritual maturity.
I am convinced that many of the problems in pastoral culture result from an unbiblical definition of the essential ingredients of ministry success. Sure, most candidate profiles expect a "vibrant walk with the Lord," but these words are often weakened by a process that asks few questions in this area and makes grand assumptions. We're really interested in knowledge (right theology), skill (good preacher), ministry philosophy (will build the church), and experience (isn't cutting his pastoral teeth in this new place of ministry). I have heard church leaders, in moments of pastoral crisis, say many times, "We didn't know the man we hired."4 comments
Do you really know yourself as well as you think you do? I ended my last article asking you to consider the critical, progressive warning of Hebrews 3:12-13, paraphrased as, "See to it that none of you has an evil-unbelieving-falling away-hardened heart." It is a picture of what sin does if undetected, unexposed, and unforsaken. The process of heart hardening begins long before that hardness becomes obvious.37 comments
Pastor, have you ever asked the question, "Who am I, and what do I spiritually need?" Or have you ever thought about your pastor and asked, "Who's my pastor, and what does he need in order to remain spiritually healthy and to grow in grace?" Does it seem right and healthy to you that in many churches no one gets less of the ministry of the body of Christ than the pastor? Does it seem best to you that most pastors live outside of and above the body of Christ?11 comments
How does love of neighbor summarize all that God calls us to? The answer is both simple and profound. Those who love God above all else will love their neighbor as they love themselves.11 comments