Being a pastor isn’t always easy. If it was, God wouldn’t have to call us. But as far as I’m concerned, the many blessings far outweigh the struggles. With that in mind, let me give you the top four reasons I’m excited to be a pastor again—alliterated, of course!
There are few things in life I enjoy more than spending time with God in His Word. The richness and depth of the Bible continually amazes me. I am a convinced believer in systematic, consecutive expository preaching. That means I preach week-to-week, verse-by-verse through books of the Bible. I could write for weeks about the benefits of that kind of preaching (and probably will in later posts), but for now, let me tell you what it does for me. During my time as a Church Planting Catalyst, I was blessed to preach nearly every week in different churches around our state—even in other states. It’s always a blessing to spend time in the Bible—but nothing compares to the in-depth, week-to-week study that comes from preaching through an entire book. I’m forced away from my pet topics and into what God is really saying to His people. I have to deal with textual difficulties and hard things. And as I struggle with those things, the Spirit shapes me and the church learns to handle their Bibles well.
For some reason, God has allowed me to be a strategic thinker. Some people are great at working out details and dealing with minutiae. I work better at 30,000 feet. For me, it is incredibly rewarding to understand and clearly teach a group of believers what our mission is. Seeing God bring alignment to His people as we begin to understand the direction we’re going and all start heading that way is exciting. Understanding our biblical mission, casting an irresistible vision and developing a strategic plan for how we’re going to get there is challenging, but amazingly rewarding to me. But even more rewarding is watching God work in the hearts of His people as they begin to accomplish great Kingdom work. In the words of the cigar-smoking Hannibal on the A-Team—I love it when a plan comes together!
An old line that preachers often use is, “Ministry would be great if it wasn’t for all the people.” As a pastor, the greatest source of joy and the greatest source of pain come from the people God has entrusted to me. I love the way Paul talked to the church at Philippi. Maybe I’m reading into things, but I think Philippi was his favorite church. It was clear he loved them dearly. Just notice the number of times he referred to them as his joy. They weren’t perfect. They struggled with unity. They tended to grumble and complain a little bit. Their giving wasn’t always consistent. They had a couple of ladies stirring some trouble. No, they were far from perfect—just like all local churches, including the one I pastor. But just like any good pastor, Paul loved them. He loved watching what God was doing in and through them. And he understood it was God who was doing it (Philippians 2:13). Most of all, he trusted that God was going to finish what He started in them (Philippians 1:6). If it wasn’t for the people, I wouldn’t experience the affliction of ministry—but the joy of seeing God work in people and watching them come together to accomplish His mission far outweighs the light, momentary affliction.
Okay, so I like to eat—and nobody cooks like Southern Baptist ladies (and men)! But aside from the fact I like to eat, I love the fellowship that comes from sharing meals together. Sometimes calling ourselves a church family can sound like Christianese. But the fact is—we are family. We are adopted sons and daughters of the King—brothers and sisters in Christ. Even secular sociologists and psychologists understand the importance of families eating together. In an article on the Huffington Post, Registered Dietitian Timi Gustafson wrote, “The dinner table can be the perfect environment where kids learn how to conduct conversations, observe good manners, serve others, listen, solve conflicts and compromise.” Eating together as a church family teaches us the same things. And besides that, the banana pudding is awesome!
Those are certainly not the only reasons I’m excited to be a pastor again. In conversations this week with pastor friends who are enduring difficult seasons of ministry, my glasses aren’t so rose-colored to think that rough times won’t come. But no matter what comes when the honeymoon is eventually over, here’s one thing I do know: “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)” It’s good to be Pastor to the people of Parkview Baptist Church!