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Guest Blogger: Jason Helopoulos

Robert Murray McCheyne famously said, “The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness.”

Now, before the critiques are lobbed at McCheyne for having too-high a view of pastors, let’s be clear, McCheyne is not implying he is more important than Christ. This is the same man who said, “Our soul should be a mirror of Christ; we should reflect every feature: for every grace in Christ there should be a counterpart in us” and “For every look at self, take ten looks at Christ.” Rather, by stating the importance of the pastor’s personal holiness, he is echoing Paul in 1 Timothy 4 when he says, “Keep a close watch on your life and doctrine. Persist in this, for so by doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

Needed words for the pastor in our day. Needed words for the pastor in every age. Nothing is more essential to a pastor’s calling or the ministry he extends to others than his own personal holiness.

As I reflect over the past decade of watching fellow brothers in the pastorate fail morally, the threats seem to come in four primary categories. Dear pastor, be on-guard against each.

Neglect of the Calling: The pastorate is not an occupation; it is a calling—a calling to serve the Lord by serving His people. As John Piper helpfully said, “Brothers, we are not professionals.” In fact, the pastor serves as the chief-servant of his little flock. He may receive a salary from the church, but He is employed from above. His calling is not primarily a job meant to secure income. He does not labor, so he may receive. Rather, the pastor’s calling is one of giving–a life poured out as a drink offering for the sake of others (2 Timothy 4:6). He does not angle for advancement. He does not perform. He does not simply aim to produce. Rather, he seeks by his whole life to serve and love others in the name of Christ. Such service requires heart, mind, and soul engagement. Therefore, he guards against going through the motions whether in worship, counseling, teaching, or even administration. Pastors, you may never just punch the time clock. Every service we render is to be motivated by love for His people. Be happy to decrease that He might increase (John 3:30). Seek to serve and not be served (Matthew 20:28) for the good of the church and the glory of Christ. Seek to be a pastor pursuing holiness by refusing to become a professional.

Neglect of the Body: The pastorate demands all of a man. I have watched a myriad of men leave the pastorate not for a want of love for the people or adequate gifting but out of sheer exhaustion. The conflicts took their toll, the hours became too much, the pressures too great. And when the body is tired, whether physically or emotionally, it is a ready playing field for sin. Our body and soul are united; neither should be neglected. Pastors, observe the Sabbath, take all your vacation days, and ask your elders for an annual study leave. Take regular prayer retreats. Keep stoking the fires of your own affections for Christ as you grant your body adequate rest. Find a friend to confide in and to wrestle through pastorally emotional things. Seek to be a pastor pursuing holiness by combating exhaustion and erecting a double-guard when exhaustion does indeed descend.

Neglect of the Family: The pastorate can be a blessing and a trial for the average family. There are many benefits for our wives and children. There are also some hardships, which too often the pastor multiplies. Let us be clear, the pastorate does not provide an excuse for the man neglecting his family. Rather, the pastorate reinforces the need for him to adequately love and care for his family. The demands of being a pastor never outweigh the demands of the pastor’s wife and children. Their bodies, hearts, and souls persist as his first charge. Pastors, be home most nights of the week. Play catch in the backyard. Eat dinner together. Lead your wife and children in family worship (How can one expect to lead the family of God in worship if he doesn’t lead his own home in worship?). Listen to them and seek to shepherd their hearts. Tend to their needs and struggles. Cry with them. Laugh with them. How sad it is when a pastor’s family becomes disillusioned with the church, because he was too enamored with it. Seek to be a pastor pursuing holiness by tending to your family with diligence and love.

Neglect of the Soul: Neglecting to tend the garden of his own soul threatens the pastor’s personal holiness more than anything else. He busies himself with planting the Word and pruning weeds in the lives of others, but his own soul receives little care. He is too busy. The work is too hard. Others are worse off. And in his own heart, worldliness creeps in, pride pitches its tent, lust grabs a hold, and righteousness flees. The small sins which once had a foothold, now control. His sermon preparation no longer stirs him, his sermons become performances, his ministry becomes sheer duty, and his life begins to disintegrate. Oh dear pastors, examine your heart daily. Seek to root out sin and fan the flames of righteousness. Never teach or preach anything that does not first move your heart. Seek out brothers in the Lord who, like Philemon, refresh your soul (Philemon 1:7). Find authors who stir your mind. Practice daily prayer, Scripture reading, and memorization for your own personal life in Christ. Pray that the Lord would give you a true view of self, so pride would have no seat, lust would have no allure, greed would find no ground, and slothfulness cannot lounge. Even as you seek to see others conformed to the image of Christ more and more, so you must labor to see it realized in your own life as well. Seek to be a pastor pursuing holiness by tending to the garden of your own soul.

Pastors, our need for personal holiness cannot be overestimated. You have a holy calling, to perform a holy service, to the holy bride of Christ, for the glory of a holy God. Pursue holiness. “Toil” and “struggle” to do so, “with all his energy that he powerfully works within” you (Colossians 1:29). In so doing, “you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).


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25 thoughts on “The Pastor’s Personal Holiness”

  1. Richard UK says:

    All four exhortations are equally valid and important for all Christians, even those in secular employment. McCheyne may not be implying that he is more important than Christ but there is a hint in this post that the pastor is more important than the laity

    ‘Calling’ used to mean specifically the call by a church to a man to come to work as pastor (or any other post in the church). Now it has taken on the sense of a calling from God, that perhaps a cobbler does not have. But both are called to be ‘holy’. A Luther said, the cobbler is not called on to put crosses on the shoes he makes, but to make a good pair sold for a fair price. The danger with the view of a special call from God is that not only does this motivate men to be pastors whom nobody else believes they have that calling, but more importantly, they see their critics as mouthpieces of the enemy simply confirming their ministry is godly. In fact, neglect of their own personal holiness can often arise not so much from lack of time, as lack of awareness that they might be in the wrong

    1 Tim 4 teaches the need to keep a close guard on your life and doctrine. but there is no reference at all in this one-sided post about sound doctrine. Indeed if pastors were better at their doctrine, then holiness would flow more naturally, as a fruit – which is what it is meant to be

    I was shocked at the non Christocentricity of “And in his own heart, worldliness creeps in, pride pitches its tent, lust grabs a hold, and righteousness flees. The small sins which once had a foothold, now control”. Whose righteousness is it that flees? The pastor’s?! Ant sense of such a righteousness is self-righteousenss. Secondly, there is the implication that small sins were once were controlled but then can’t be. Who controls their own sins? Only God control your sins (and remember that even control of your sins does not mean you are no longer a base but forgiven sinner in your heart)

    Although this post is no doubt well-intentioned, it has too much bad doctrine just below the surface, which is more likely to shipwreck ministries, not less, with its joyless burdensome modern self-help tenor. Sorry

  2. Josh P. says:

    Same old misguided post.: written by a full-time pastor in a bubble, written for full-time pastors in a bubble. As a Southern Baptist bi-vocational pastor, this post makes some good general points but comes off more than a little bit whiney and wimpy.

    Full-time pastors face the exact same call to holiness that we all do.
    Full-time pastors often face much, much more agreeable work schedules than we all do.
    Full-time pastors most times get much more family time (as they can study “on the clock.”) than we all do.

    Getting extra time off is great for anyone if you can get it… but be in reality guys. Pastor, please try to remember what it’s like to be a part of society. Your average congregant doesn’t have any of the perks that you have and has a great call to holiness and Christlikeness like you do.

    He just doesn’t get to blog about it.

  3. Ross Riggan says:

    I marvel at the negativity in these comments. Jason is trying to encourage pastors to not stumble in ministry, and people are going to give him a hard time in how he tries to encourage? It’s nearly ludicrous if it weren’t also just sad.

  4. Josh P. says:

    Ross,

    I am not trying to be negative for the sake of negativity. I truly believe Jason is misguided here.

    It seems like this is the latest in a string of blogs I have read lately that recommend that Pastors ask their Elders for time off to deal with issues. It seems like a sissified way to deal with the conflict of personal holiness and totally out of step with reality. Can you imagine a welder or waitress having this option?

    We loose credit with congregants that are working 50 hours second shift at a factory when we say that a good means of sanctification is to always have family dinner at the table and to take extra time off above vacation days.

    I know I am speaking from a narrow context and experience with this sentence, but most full time pastors I know struggle with holiness due to laziness and lack of boundaries, not from over-working in ministry.

  5. Richard UK says:

    Ross

    I agree that Jason’s blog is well intentioned but, as I and others have said, it is a form of special pleading that says more about what Jason expects from his ‘calling’ than Paul’s being ‘poured out for the gospel’. It might almost be pastoring-lite

    If an unbeliever encourages a friend in a tough job saying he should take a regular sickie, help himself to the company’s products, put in receipts for items costing less than $1, this might help him, but it is just not appropriate (not to mention possibly illegal). Not to say that the above advice is remotely illegal but it is just ‘bubble’ mentality. In fact it turns pastoring into a job more efficiently than his advice not to!! I am just sad that Jason cannot see this

    I would love to see an argument that could persuade me that a pastor’s job is harder than a high school teacher’s one

  6. Wendy C says:

    Why is this called ‘personal holiness’? Isn’t it more a case of ‘sensible discipline’???
    Surely we have no personal holiness – that’s why we need the cross?! We stand naked before God, clothed only in Christ’s holiness. The idea that we have some intrinsic ‘goodness’ inside us ( how much is it? 80%? 30%? 5%?) is offensive. Our so called ‘righteousness’ is as filthy rags. We are only ‘holy’ in so far that we are set apart. Personally – we are 100% sinner (and yet declared 100% saint – praise be to God!)

  7. Ross Riggan says:

    The personal holiness that Jason is referring to has nothing to do with our “standing” before God. Jason knows just like we all do that Christ’s righteousness is our standing before God, provided on the cross. The personal righteousness or holiness he is referring to has everything to do with our sanctification, our resisting sin, our putting off sin and putting on Godliness, production of spiritual fruit, etc.

    As far as vocation, a person is not a “better” person just because they have chosen to be a pastor. Some pastors may have an easier job than some high school teachers. Yet, Scripture does call us to regard them with double honor and I have to believe that must be because of the huge responsibility shepherding people’s souls is. Not that this necessarily justifies extended time off after vacation time, but that is up to each congregation to decide. Every situation is different so that must also be kept in mind.

  8. Richard UK says:

    Ross

    So you are saying that you and Jason believe that, with respect to God, we have only Christ’s righteousness; but we still have a separate righteousness from resisting sin (perhaps in terms of our standing before men – I don’t know)?? And that is the righteousness that might flee? I agree you could say that a pastor’s visible misbehcesavior can perhaps create a lot more damage than can the same of a christian non-pastor. But that is NOTHING to do with righteousness – it is to do with consequences

    If a pastor is offered extra vocation, he should turn it down – obviously

    If it is not Christ’s righteousness that flees, it must be the pastor’s. How much of your own righteousness do YOU have?

    Did you realize that you have misquoted 1 Tim 5? We are to give honor, indeed double honor to pastors who do their job WELL. It is just that I don’t believe Jason’s post works in that direction at all. And yes, double the responsibility (when handled well), then double the honor; just as in the secular world, double the responsibility (handled well), then double the pay. And shareholders are a lot less forgiving than congregations

  9. Andy B says:

    “I was shocked at the non Christocentricity of “And in his own heart, worldliness creeps in, pride pitches its tent, lust grabs a hold, and righteousness flees. The small sins which once had a foothold, now control”. Whose righteousness is it that flees? The pastor’s?! Ant sense of such a righteousness is self-righteousenss.”

    I was shocked by the non Scriptural-ness of the comment. Besides being the most poetic and beautifully written sentence in the article, it’s straight out of the Bible : “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22. Let’s not let Christocentricity erase passages of Scripture. After all, “Christocentricity” is not a word in the Bible. Worldliness, pride, lust, and righteousness are.

  10. Ross Riggan says:

    One of the dictionary definitions of righteous(righteousness) is: acting in an upright, moral way; virtuous. So with respect to God, we are completely morally bankrupt. There is none righteous, not even one. Christ provided His own righteousness to us by His substitutionary atonement. Therefore, positionally before God, we are counted righteous and that will never change because Christ’s righteousness is forever sufficient. Now with respect to the people around us, we either act in morally upright ways (righteousness) or not. There are things we do or do not do that contribute or denigrate that righteousness. Being upright is important for all men, especially those who serve in the church. Pastors should therefore do all they can to sustain and grow their righteousness/holiness, not to show off or brag, but to bring honor to God by being Christlike and not unnecessarily bringing a stumbling block to their flock and unbelievers. Personal righteousness is not something to compare or judge so Richard I think your question to me is misplaced.

    As far as my take on the double honor passage, I believe I was right on. A pastor should be doing well or he should not be a pastor. So if your a pastor and not deemed to be unqualified for the task, you are Scripturally to receive double honor.

  11. Joel says:

    Great article. Terrible and sad comments.
    Richard, you said, “I would love to see an argument that could persuade me that a pastor’s job is harder than a high school teacher’s one.” I don’t think that’s what the article was trying to say or that being a pastor is harder. This is not a matter of harder or easier, it is a matter of the needs of the pastor and congregants to have a pastor whose heart is focused on and in love with Christ. A high school teacher, even a Christian high school teacher, does not need to be in love with Christ to teach math or history. This is the difference between secular work and ministry work. Christians in a secular field SHOULD heed much of the above advice but pastors MUST (this is because otherwise they won’t be pastors). A Christian who is a schoolteacher won’t damage scores of souls the same way a pastor will if they fall into sin.

    Josh, you said “Full-time pastors face the exact same call to holiness that we all do.
    Full-time pastors often face much, much more agreeable work schedules than we all do.
    Full-time pastors most times get much more family time (as they can study “on the clock.”) than we all do.”
    To your first point: wrong. See James 3:1
    To your second point: wrong. I am “on call” 24/7 and it shows. For several years before becoming a pastor I managed a very busy business and I have less time now than I did then.
    To your third point: partly wrong and partly right. I do study “on the clock” but as the article helpfully pointed out, family time is part of my ministry. If my family fails then my ministry does too. This is what several of these comments are misguided. A Christian can divorce his wife his wife all while doing his job successfully but a pastor can’t. The point of the article is not to make the pastor’s job sound harder; it is to help pastors to do their job better. This is no different than an article telling teachers how to teach better.

  12. Neville Briggs says:

    All the problems that worry Mr Helopoulos can disappear. All we have to do is abolish the clergy system.
    If ” pastors ” are not professional as John Piper alleges, then don’t have full time paid pastors.

    Surely any congregation has some experienced and wise members who, while in employment, can generously help out by looking out for the development of church members. They don’t need to be paid by the church if they already have jobs.
    They don’t need to preach sermons, where does the Bible say that pastors are to deliver weekly lectures.
    If all members of the church participate in guiding and encouraging church life then there is no burden on one person with the attendant danger of burn out.

    It’s not the holiness or faults of pastors that is the problem. It is the pale imitation of the temple priesthood that is the problem.
    The Levitical priesthood is gone, we have a new High Priest who calls us all to minister to one another under His headship.

    Wouldn’t it be better to reform now than to wait until God brings the whole thing crashing down, as He did in Jerusalem in the first century.

  13. Josh P. says:

    Joel,

    The “we” in my comparison was to me and bi-vocational pastors. Hence, my emphasis on “full-time”. Are you claiming that your application of James 3:1, your on-call status, or your study time schedule is superior to mine?

    I guarantee that 10 out of 10 people would choose your schedule and obligations over mine.

  14. Richard UK says:

    I don’t really want to read lengthy posts so I apologise this is so lengthy to answer comments from 3 others

    —-

    The reaction by some to the criticism of Jason’s post by others in part (but not totally) proves that there is a defensiveness against their ‘patch’ being invaded. Nobody supporting Jason has made any significant acknowledgment that the problems pastors face might be of their own making. For those currently in full time ministry and claiming that they don’t have enough time, I would suggest you stop blogging – God has ‘called’ you to use your time better

    Part of the confusion here is that Jason has identified a spiritual problem (lack of personal holiness) and suggested various practical ways for a pastor to ‘maintain’ his holiness. I don’t even like the assumptions behind that (non Christocentric) approach, but even starting with it, there is a lot of proof texting going on

    Andy B, and Ross

    If you reread my post, you will see I am not disputing let alone advocating worldliness; I am challenging the theology behind ‘righteousness flees’ which I now learn is a man’s righteousness before his neighbour. We cannot borrow a secular dictionary to tell us what righteousness. The bible makes it clear that it is our standing before God and that it is His righteousness imputed to us, not ours. If you want to talk about a man’s moral qualities, then use ‘holiness’ if you must, or preferably Christlike-ness. (It is only a minor point but 2 Tim 2:22 is much more Christocentric than Jason’s rendering. Even if you want to take ‘righteousness’ there as Christlike-ness, it is something we pursue not lose, and we do that ‘along with those who call upon the Lord (and if you want to misinterpret ‘out of a pure heart’ we will need to understand ‘pure’). PS –I an the Way, the Truth and the Life demands Christocentricity.

    Ross

    My only small quibble with yours is that we cannot assume that if a man is a pastor, he must be doing the job well, and therefore deserves double honor. You seem only to distinguish between ‘unqualified’ and ‘well’.

    Joel

    The article’s suggestion about taking extra time off was indeed about the load on a pastor. That is why I counter-suggested a high school teacher who has unavoidable commitments whereas the commitments of a pastor are much more to be determined by him.

    The way you distinguish between secular and ministry work seems to be exactly the sort of unaware special pleading that smacks of Roman sacerdotalism that people object too. Of course a pastor’s failings can have a wide impact but then so too would a Christian CEO’s or Congressman’s too.

    A Christian schoolteacher MUST heed all scriptural commands, and one who is not in love with His Savior will damage himself and all those he is contact with.
    I think you are confusing the relative degree of potential collateral damage with an absolute distinction between ministry work and what you interestingly call secular work.

    I think you are misunderstanding James 3:1 which is not about a call to greater holiness (God does not expect anything less than perfection from all of us; imagine too if a member of the congregation said ‘I’m not called to as much holiness as you’!). It is a reminder of the different responsibility such that if he uses his mouth like the bit, or a rudder, on his flock, then he will be judged strictly. It is not in fact a call to more personal holiness as to sound teaching

    Your 2nd reply to Josh – the fact that you have less time as a pastor proves nothing. A pastor’s workload is much more flexible and have either chosen to work all out or, like many self-directed or self-employed workers, have boundary difficulties about when to say ‘No’ (the messiah syndrome)

    Your 3rd reply – I am shocked that you say family time is part of ministry time. Is driving to the shop to buy a shirt ministry time? If you have been employed (rather than self-employed), you will recall that family time and buying a shirt that you were not meant to do on company time. If a CEO’s family fails, so does his effectiveness in his job.

    Your point about divorce sounds the most like special among it all

    I agree that the intention of the article is to help pastor’s do their ‘job’ (yes) better. Unfortunately the advice given belies a lofty view of pastoral status which has been elevated further by those supporting him

    I know we will have to agree to disagree. We can then let you get back to your family time

    This incipient sacerdotalism makes me recall Luther’s priesthood of all believers, whereby we each minster to each other and we pay a man to study the bible and preach to us at the end of the week. Perhaps he should be working on his material 35 hours a week, and praying outside that time just like a believer in a secular job might pray and look after his family outside his time at the coal face (as well as probably commute further). And he would visit the sick just as his congregation should too – outside working hours !!

  15. Ross Riggan says:

    Richard,

    I can use a secular dictionary if I choose to for a helpful description of any word if I feel it captures the Biblical meaning. I have already explained Christ’s righteousness by substitutionary atonement so why this keeps coming up when we agree is baffling. I can also use the word righteousness to refer to Christ’s righteousness or my own personal holiness/sanctification if I choose to. There’s no word usage police on blogs.

    I think it’s obvious if a pastor is not doing well, he should not receive double honor and should pursue another vocation. If he is doing well, keep the pastorate and parishioners provide the double honor as Scripture indicates. The splitting hairs is getting a little unnecessary.

  16. JM says:

    I have done full time ministry work vocationally with college students. And I have also worked in the secular workplace.
    Full time vocational ministry work came with unique challenges. (There’s no reason in these comments to try to compare if one type of profession is harder than another. These are keeping thoughts below rather than above – it serves no purpose to compare ourselves to one another.). That being said, vocational ministry was hard because our jobs were to engage with people spiritually and emotionally and it made personal boundaries challenging – when your work as a woman is to love the woman who is sharing her brokenness or her sons done against her or weeping. And also if we had conflict on our ministry team, it was harder to have boundaries because we were in each other’s lives and homes and prayer circles and Bible studies.

    I think the articles on this site addressed to pastors are great. But perhaps sometimes you could also include women in full time ministry work. Women’s ministry leaders, missionaries, ministry workers. Thanks. :)

  17. Cindy says:

    The best gift a pastor can give to his congregation is the gospel. Personality, gifting and all that goes into how he serves is going to look different. Demographic, size of the city and part of the country will each have a unique twist in how he ministers. Blessed are the congregations whose pastors are standing before them week after week teaching from the Scriptures the good news of God in Christ. Whatever is capturing the heart of the pastor will be communicated through his sermon. That my pastor loves Christ and wrestles with his own hearts affections, knowing that the power of God in the gospel is the antidote for his people is what moves a heart to holiness without needing to worry about whether is evident and visible.

  18. Oliver says:

    What depressing comments. The idea is you say your piece and then you’re done. What would an unbeliever say if they came across this shameful display? Who are you serving right now? Personal holiness is a massive deal for a pastor. This article is about that subject. It is neither the best nor the worst, but one thing’s for sure: the nitpicking and grandstanding won’t help me to seek to be holy in greater and greater degrees.

    Perhaps it would be good for the comments to be closed for this post.

  19. Adriana Denhoed says:

    One of our sons, (both are pastors with young families) sent this article to my husband, a second vocation pastor.( former teacher) .
    It was a word of reminder, as well as encouragement, for MY soul.
    Truth is outside of the era we serve in ,as well as ministry we are called to. There seems to be a lack of grace amongst the critics , that likely surfaces in other areas of their lives. Lord help us , in these days.
    And , THANKYOU for this word of encouragement to personal holiness.

  20. Richard UK says:

    Q1. Is the pastor’s holiness more important than Jesus’ holiness – which is greater and effective in remitting sins?

    A1. Of course not, but there is little here about Jesus. So the post is, I fear, misguided.

    Q2. Since a pastor’s holiness (and any Christian’s holiness) is important, should this be achieved by lessening the work burden on him so that he can have family time when he should be ‘working’?

    A2. Of course not. He does not deserve, nor should he seek special pleading. A more favorable existence than his congregation will lose him respect. They expect to maintain their holiness and family soundness outside their working hours. The pastor should too.

    Q3. Is this post balanced and helpful?

    A3. 3 of the points tell the pastor not to work to the point of burnout, although that is a message for Christians and non-Christians alike, and is clearly sensible. All Christians need to learn to say No. Failure to do so can be Workaholism or the Messiah syndrome both of which are sins of idolatry, and of which I have been and probably still am guilty. The solution is not however to build in more ‘me-time’.
    The first point is that “the pastor’s calling is one of giving–a life poured out as a drink offering for the sake of others” which sits oddly with the other three. It is of course the one to which we should aspire.

  21. Ken McLain says:

    Oswald Chambers:”Our calling is not primarily to be holy men and woman, but to be proclaimers of the Gospel of God. Reality is not human goodness, nor holiness…but redemption; and the need to perceive this is the most vital need of the Christian today.”

  22. AA says:

    Seriously……

    As a person who has worked in the secular world for most of my life. Having worked full-time and having run a business outside of my 9 to 5 job. While at the same time been preparing sermons for preaching regularly (every other week), and studying a 2 year part-time course in Christian ministry all at the same time, as well us looking after a family with two young children – I think I can ‘weigh in’ with my 2 cents.

    I have been in the Pastorate for 2 years and can honestly say that it is the toughest job I have ever taken. Jason’s points are spot on. Don’t attack or misinterpret what you know he is trying to say by picking up on some theological point, claiming he’s not being biblical.

    Ok, Jason may have used different terminology when he said, “righteousness flees.” But I’m sure we all know that he wasn’t saying we lose the applied righteousness of Christ. He was remarking that our personal holiness and standards for godly living can easily be affected when sin is given any ground in our lives.

    As for those attacking Jason’s defence for the person in the pastorate, I would genuinely say, “unless you’ve been in his shoes, don’t even consider making judgements.” Ever wondered why so many Pastors are no longer in ministry? I’ll tell you why – it’s one of the toughest positions in life. This role demands pressures that most people don’t even think about. If you don’t believe that the devil and his demons have a Bible believing minister on their hit list – then think again.

    It is a spiritual vocation and one that sees highs on occasion – but a lot of lows and spiritual assaults. Don’t even think of trying to say that every Christian faces them to the same degree and rate. They do face them – but you can almost guarantee they probably won’t come at the same ferocity or frequency that a minister receives them. After all, satan wants to destroy the gospel, the church and God’s people. He wants to ruin the reputation of church pastors to undermine the truth that God’s servants proclaim.

    I can only speak from my own context as a pastor of a church with a congregation size of about 22
    members. The hours are ridiculously long. I had more free time when I was doing everything before the pastorate. The busyness then, was just that. But now, it comes with greater burdens.

    I have said this previously – this is the best job in the world, but also the hardest.
    It’s the best job because you have the responsibility and honour of sharing the gospel, of sharing others burdens, of sharing others pain, of being there in their spiritual struggles.

    But it’s also the hardest because you are frequently facing spiritual battles and assaults. Peoples
    criticisms’ and often harsh rebukes, very often over the most petty minded of things. And if something goes awry in your week and unexpected events happen to steal your preparation time – you then face struggling to play catch up and get both your sermons ready for Sundays.

    It often means (and I mean, nearly always) that you do not take your appointed day off because you are just too busy. It means, people expect you to be out at nights attending meetings in the week. I know my wife has remarked at times that I am only at home once or twice some weeks. Those chores around the home get delayed or postponed which then starts putting family pressures into the mix. The family can actually come to resent the fact that your work means you are putting the church and church things first.

    I could go on but won’t. I’m not saying that some Pastor’s don’t have a cushy ride – with lots of staff around them to help. But in my own experience, with very little help and having to be looking after almost every aspect of the modern pastorate – I find Jason’s points very accurate, pertinent and a timely reminder for me to try and manage and guard these things carefully. We are to serve and give our all to the ministry – but God doesn’t want us to be all washed up on the beach with our family our calling and our vocation in tatters.

    The points in Jason’s article are really intended as a reminder for Pastors. So if you read the article and find it useful in your own context then great, but before being negative about it – remember who it is written to, and if that’s not you – then don’t throw your snowballs unless you’ve been there.

    God Bless

  23. Malia Gotts says:

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