Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Simple but not easy: the life of a pastor

Much of life is, on the whole, simple but not easy.

Take healthy living as an example. Eat a moderate balanced diet and exercise and so on and you can expect better health. Of course there are complications which need very deep and technical thinking about, but basically, how to look after yourself is simply stated for most people most of the time. But that does not mean it is easy! Most of us know what we ought to do, but our eating, exercising and sleeping may often not be what we know they should be.

So it is with the Christian life. Love God and love your neighbour. Now, some of the detail gets very complicated sometimes, but in outline it is very simple but not easy.

So too with the life of a pastor. Minister the Word, pray, love people, do the work of an evangelist and so on. There are a host of specific skills to learn, like how to do weddings and funerals well. And the Word and the Lord and people are inexhaustible. And sometimes there is a tricky ethical question that 35 hours of study won't really get to the bottom of. But on the whole, most of the time, it is pretty simple.

So why is it not always done? Or not always done well?

Often we know what we ought to do. And we even really believe that we should do it!

We must cry to God for his grace and mercy and the power of his Spirit.

But perhaps one other thing - one to pray for - is keeping the realities of God and heaven and hell at the front of one's mind. Life is busy and distracting. We need to consciously and repeatedly remember God and his love for sinners, his call to repentance, his sanctifying grace and the power of the Spirit and so on.

Regularly the pastor needs to re-focus on eternal realities and on the core of his vocation - not on that pile of admin, the leaky gutter, the financial issues or even the tensions between X and Y over the choice of music - important and urgent as these things might sometimes be. He must even lift his eyes from getting the next sermon adequately prepared.

God. Bible. Prayer. Love. People. Evangelism. Repeat. Something like that, anyway, maybe?

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