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When A Clergyman Inadvertently Finds Himself At A Card Party (via Centuries Of Advice)

When I was studying to be a pastor we didn’t get advice as forthright and practical as this.
One should endeavour to ascertain the true character of a party when accepting an invitation.
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Genuine And Lasting Healing Comes From God, Not From Us (via Harold Senkbeil)

Pastors must have compassion and empathy for those they serve, but it is not pastoral compassion and empathy that brings change and healing.
That comes from God working through his gracious means.
This by no means excuses pastors from compassion and empathy, for these adorn the reception of those gracious means.
From The Care Of Souls by Harold Senkbeil:

The word of God effects or performs what it speaks. It does not merely describe things but creates things. So while you and I as pastors can — and should — express our personal care and concern to suffering souls sympathetically and compassionately, there is only a temporary measure of relief in our concern and compassion. Genuine and lasting healing comes from God, not from us.
It took me quite a while to learn that lesson in the ministry. I was under the false impression that my personal empathy was the main help I could bring to sorrowing or hurting people. Not only was I wrong, but I quickly ran out of empathy. I don’t know about you, but I have a limited capacity for compassion. And when I’m running on empty, I’ve got nothing left to give.

The Care Of Souls, Harold Senkbeil, Lexham Press, 2019, pgs 92-93.


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Pastoring Based On Calling, Not Feeling (via Will Willimon)

Will Willimon tells the story of his first Christmas in a new appointment serving a very small church, having received the news that his estranged black-sheep father has died in his memoir Accidental Preacher.
His stories resonate with experiences of pastoral life, not in a self-serving or manipulative way that presents the pastoral role as one deserving pity, but in ways that demonstrate that pastors can only minister grace when we continually experience our personal dependence on it.
I’m only held together by gaffer tape, baling wire and grace. And the gaffer tape and baling wire are purely decorational.
That’s not the story of my past, as if I’m now beyond what I commit to people as being their current need.
It’s still my daily experience.
From Willimon:

That’s church for you. Church forces us to march in and sing even when we’re not in a singing mood, not feeling faithful, and “joyful and triumphant” is not us. Church doesn’t wait for you to have the proper motivation for worship in order to call you to worship. And there are so many times, when you have been called to be a pastor, that you don’t feel like being a pastor but still must act the part. You may be in pain, may be in over your head emotionally and theologically. Though you are supposed to be an expert in helping others to grieve, you may not know how publicly to mark your own loss. As a pastor, your personal problems take a backseat to the needs of others. You’re the only pastor they have, and Christmas comes but once a year. So you pull tight the cincture and pray, “God, who got me into this, give me the hardheaded determination to get through it.” You go out and act like their pastor even when you don’t want to.
When seminarians plead for graciousness for “personal reasons,” when they are late with some class assignment because an aunt whom “I revered as if she were my grandmother” departed or they are suffering a bout of depression, I think, Clergy who are not periodically depressed have either given up too soon or expect too little of Jesus. You can’t stand up on Sunday and say, Nothing would have pleased me more than to have a sermon for you but first it was one thing and then another so we’re going to break up into discussion groups. Then we’ll pool our collective ignorance and call that todays’ sermon.
I’d get fired for saying this to a student, but even the dean can’t keep me from thinking it.
Will Willimon, Accidental Preacher, Eerdmans, 2019, pgs 71-72.


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Fed, Nourished, Guarded, And Protected By The Tools Christ Has Entrusted To Our Hands (via Harold Senkbeil)

In The Care Of Souls, Harold Senkbeil reminds us that God accomplishes the work of growing the saints through the tools that Christ has entrusted to the Church, not through the personal capacities of those who wield them. This is not say that people don’t matter, it’s just important to remember what the channels that God works to bring change and growth really are.

I can guarantee you’ll be strung out, tapped out, and burned out in the ministry very quickly if you don’t grasp this one central truth: By your own power or strength you can do absolutely nothing as a servant of Christ and steward of his mysteries. I’ve seen it over and over again: A bright, gifted young pastor is driven to despair and the brink of emotional and spiritual collapse simply because he set out to do ministry relying on his own ingenuity and internal resources. Please get this straight: It’s not that you do part of the work and God does the rest; it’s not that you do a little bit and God does a Whole lot. Rather, in Christ’s church the Holy Spirit does everything.
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By our Lord’s own mandate, he has so arranged it in his church that we grow, are fed, nourished, guarded, and protected not out of the weakness and ineptitude of our ministers but rather by the tools Christ has entrusted into their hands. The gospel and the sacraments are not static entities—mere object lessons by which we advertise and promote the kingdom of God. Rather, the gospel and sacraments throb with vitality. They are filled to the brim with the energy and life of God’s own Spirit. The actual words that originated from the mouth ofJesus are the instruments and tools of the Holy Spirit to create and sustain faith. And just think: Jesus has given those very words to you. He has entrusted into your all too human and very flawed mouth and hands the gospel and the sacraments by which the Holy Spirit continues to call, gather, enlighten and sanctify his church on earth. You might fail; in fact, from my own bitter experience I have to say you most certainly will fail—repeatedly and spectacularly. But we believe in the forgiveness of sins also for pastors! So let me tell you this: Though you will falter and fail, God’s Spirit will not.

The Care Of Souls, Harold Senkbeil, Lexham Press, 2019, pgs 28 and 30.


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Minister Of The Gospel, Not Salesman For The Gospel (via Harold Senkbeil)

The Care Of Souls by Harold Senkbeil is a book about pastoral ministry that focuses on the pastoral role as ministering grace, rather than managerial or therapeutic.
In writing about being a pastor, Senkbeil describes how the acts of pastoral craft move from being habits to what he terms habitus, and how the pastor moves from being a workman to a craftsman.
What is the core of pastoral habitus?

The core of the pastoral habitus revolves around what I’ve been talking about in the pages above: mystery. If the content and source of ministry is the Jesus Christ, the central mystery of God, then pastors are themselves stewards of the mystery. In contrast, if you and I see ourselves merely as paddlers or purveyors of a spiritual “message,” we rapidly become salesmen for the gospel instead of true ministers of the Gospel. That is, we’re always scrambling to persuade reluctant customers to buy our product, rather than serving as emissaries sent by God to issue his perennial joyous invitation toward genuine freedom and release: “Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15)

The Care Of Souls, Harold Senkbeil, Lexham Press, 2019, pg 23.


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Acquiring The Pastoral Habitus (via Harold Senkbeil)

The Care Of Souls by Harold Senkbeil is a book about pastoral ministry that focuses on the pastoral role as ministering grace, rather than managerial or therapeutic.
In writing about being a pastor, Senkbeil describes how the acts of pastoral craft move from being habits to what he terms habitus, and how the pastor moves from being a workman to a craftsman.

We learn by doing. That’s how we develop our pastoral nose; that’s how you and I become habituated into the pastoral calling. And it’s a cyclical process. For while we faithfully practice our craft from one day to the next, we acquire a pastoral habitus for the long haul and our work comes more and more naturally to us.
When the habits of a habitus begin to inhabit a workman, he becomes a craftsman and his work a true craft.
Notice you don’t adopt a habitus; you acquire it. You might say you don’t find a habitus, rather the habitus finds you. When “occupation” becomes vocation, when calling and work merge as one, it’s a happy combination in any line of work.”

The Care Of Souls, Harold Senkbeil, Lexham Press, 2019, pg 22.


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On Waiting With Patience (via Jani Ortlund)

Everyone waits, but there is a waiting that is the fruit of trust in God, and there is the waiting that is a stewing form of complaint.
God gives us opportunity to grow in love and trust for him while we wait.

From Jani Ortlund:

Patience is not quite the same as waiting. While waiting is something we do, patience is something we offer. We wait because we must — we have little choice in the matter. But patience is our gift to our Father while we wait. In the silence, in the waiting, patience chooses to declare, “Lord, I love you. I know I don’t love you as I ought, but I want to love you more than your answer to my prayers. I will try to offer you my patient heart as long as you ask me to wait on this.”

Read the whole post at Desiring God.