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The Unique Call of Pastoral Ministry pt. 2

September 9, 2009 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

When I was younger, I used to assume that pastors and priests must get free tickets to heaven for giving their life to the service of God. I no longer believe that, now that I know that God’s grace and favor are not earned but are a free gift, and that we serve Him not for what we can get from Him but because of what we have already gotten from Him. I’m not in this ministry for the free ticket, the money, the hours, or any of those reasons; I am doing this because I believe this is what God has made me to do. Last week I shared five of the challenges that are unique to the pastor’s job. This week, let me share three of the blessings that are unique to this calling.

1) I work for a perfect boss – Okay, so God doesn’t actually write my checks, but it is a blessing (as well as a sobering reality) to know that ultimately I answer to the holy and perfect creator of the universe. Now, if God were a stern taskmaster, this would not be one of the blessings, for I would be out of the job before I even began. Knowing, however, that our God is fully aware of all of my failures and shortcomings, yet instead of condemning me chose to die for me and save me from my sins, makes all the difference in the world. God has high standards, and disciplines those He loves as His children, which means that He is not just a boss who says, “oh, don’t worry about that – it’s already forgiven!” when a pastor acts in ways that do not represent God well. Every sin, every shortcoming, will have its effect on the congregation. However, He is also a merciful God who does not just leave me alone to fumble through this job, but, as Paul puts it in Philippians 2:12-13: “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” I am blessed to know that I serve a God who has every right to fire me, but instead died for me and works in me every day to sanctify me from all my sins and shortcomings.

2) I get to make an eternal difference every day – It is such a blessing and humbling honor to know that every time I preach the gospel or share Christ with someone, that God may be using my words to bring someone into a relationship with Him, to free them from sin and make them more like Jesus, or to help them see God in a way they had never known Him before. Although one of my strengths is public speaking, I know that it would be very hard for me to use that gift to sell or promote things that I know are not as life-changing as the gospel. I believe whole-heartedly in the power of the gospel, and am blessed beyond measure to be able to communicate the gospel of God’s love and salvation for sinners on a regular basis.

3) I get paid to spend time with God – I still remember saying this to the congregation at NewLife when I was first hired as the youth pastor back in 1998. The biggest blessing, as I saw it, was that I was essentially getting paid to commune with Jesus, to learn from Him, become like Him, know Him Word, and share it with everyone. Over time, I have realized that this is more challenging then I first expected. I have noticed that it is very easy to get into the habit of reading the Bible with an eye towards how to teach it instead of how I can conform to what God is saying. My prayer and devotional life can be about how I can be a better pastor instead of how I can deepen my relationship with God. In short, a relationship with God can become part of work instead of part of life. Sometimes God wants to deal with me on things that are just for me, not for sharing with others. For that reason, I long for this to be my attitude, that my highest calling would be to know God more every day, and so, somehow, to become more like His Son. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

I am blessed to be a pastor, and thank God for the continual grace and mercy He has shown towards me in allowing me to serve Him in this way.

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