Ministry is sometimes ugly! Pastors, elders, deacons, and other leaders can often be filled with pride, selfishness, or materialistic greed. There can be gossip, double-crossing of others, lies, slander, dishonesty, defensiveness, and other not so nice character deficiencies. Pastor can betray pastor, youth workers can lose the trust of a pastor or parents, and even relationships that look good on the outside can be falling apart. Ministry is sometimes ugly!
As a pastor, I have long been inspired by a verse from the New Testament. This verse challenges me to be the best servant and minister I can be. It scares me with the simple forcefulness of the pastoral charge. In a single verse, my bearings are set back on due course as it relates to the ministry of what a pastor is. Whenever I go to this verse I am moved and motivated to care more and do more than I have ever done as a pastor.
That verse is 1 Peter 5:2, and it says
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve…”
Several ideas jump off the page of that verse to me even now as I read it.
Be Shepherds. God wants me to help him take care of his sheep.
It is God’s flock. These people are not mine, but God’s! I need to remember whose people I am caring for.
God has put some people under my care. I get to care for them. I get to love them. I get to do the deepest parts of life together with them. While they are God’s people, he has temporarily put them under my care.
Watching over them willingly. I don’t like to be relied upon to watch over stuff. I like to do my own thing, come when I want to come, go when I want to go. But God has put some people under our care and said to us “watch over them”. And he wants us to do it willingly.
We are not to do it for riches or great wealth. The King James Version says “not greedy of filthy lucre.” I still remember the Three Stooges video of them jumping around singing “We want the filthy lucre!! We want the filthy lucre!!” God wants us to watch over people not for love of money, but for love of him and others.
Finally, we are to be eager to serve! When we get to the point where we are tired and lethargic in serving, we need a break. When we want to be served more than serving, we are in trouble. Read through the Gospels and observe how eager Jesus was to help and to serve. More than once he said - "What do you want me to do for you?" Eager is the active ingredient and should be our attitude goal as we love our people.
Ministry is sometimes ugly, hard, difficult, and impossible. As pastors of 200churches, we can remember that we are shepherds and God has put some of his people under our care. That is the true north for our ministries: shepherding those in our care.
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