Elder Track: The Weight of Pastoral Ministry

Our elder track guys gathered last night for our monthly gatherings. Here are some quick reflections from the night.

Our track is a mini gospel-centered community: This is only our third time meeting and yet the level of honesty and transparency among us is encouraging. God is doing a good work in knitting our souls together and causing us to be for each other and be real with each other. We celebrated evidences of grace and confessed areas of sin. All the while, Jesus and His good news was in full view. Soul-care can be so frustrating when it’s surface-level, superficial, forced, unhelpful, let-me-report-the-events-of-my-week, and disconnected from the gospel. It feels like bad therapy. But when we get it right, it leads to deep community and gospel-centered transformation.

The night was soaked with Scripture: Following the example of our pastor-brothers in Boston, we came into the night having memorized Acts 20:18-35. Talking through that passage having it already buried in our hearts and readily available on our tongues made such a difference in the tone of the night. The Scripture had worked into our hearts like sugar dissolved in tea. Our words, thoughts, and conversation all bore the flavor and imprint of God’s Word. Scripture memory is hard work, but I think all of us left convinced that it was abundantly worthwhile.

We were sobered by the weight of pastoral ministry: In addition to Paul’s farewell address, we came into the night having read Jonathan Edwards’ Farewell Sermon. The two readings had a deep impact on us as we considered the gravity and weight of being a pastor. Here are just some of the things we noticed from Paul’s ministry as a pastor in Acts 20:

  • A pastor needs to live a transparent and exemplary life before his people (vs. 18-19, 33-35).
  • A pastor’s ministry is rife with suffering, opposition, uncertainty, and sorrow (vs. 19, 22-23, 25, 37-38).
  • A pastor must pay careful attention to his life while counting faithfulness to Jesus’ call of greater value than his own life (vs. 24, 28).
  • A pastor must have a great confidence in and commitment to God’s Word (vs. 20, 27, 32).
  • A pastor must work hard and model hard work to his people (vs. 31, 34-35).
  • A pastor must shepherd his flock by teaching everyone and one-on-one (vs. 20); by uncompromisingly declaring the whole truth of God’s word (vs. 27); by paying careful attention to each member, caring for the church as those who are precious to God having been obtained by His blood (vs. 28); by being alert for wolves and fighting them off  (vs.29-31); and by helping the weak, considering it more blessed to give than to receive (vs. 35).
  • A pastor is made a pastor by the Holy Spirit (vs. 28).

Needless to say, we were sobered by the weight of what it meant to be a pastor. The word drove us to repent for our failings and shortcomings and to seek God for grace to become what we ought.

Our night ended with faith-full prayers for one another. Looking forward to more of these.


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