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Not The Way That Ministry Works (via Sarah Condon)

Sarah Condon, writing about fame and self-destruction offers a peculiar, yet not alien observation about the background of some of those who enter pastoral ministry.

I have a mentor who often says about ordained people, “Something bad happened to you if you want to be a priest.” Meaning that people are attracted to ministry as a means by which to fix what is broken. Maybe we come from tough family situations and/or we have an endless and neurotic need for love and attention.
I was once in a clergy conference where the speaker asked how many of the people in the room had a mother who often “took to bed” or who was actively an alcoholic. In other words, how many people had mothers that they felt they needed to take care of when they were children? Easily 75% of the people in the room raised their hands.
For these people, there was the hope that the Church might be the Mother that would care for them. This is, of course, not at all the way ministry works.
And it is not the way fame works, either…
…fame, like the ministry, is not going to heal any deep wounds. In fact, it will exacerbate both.

Read the whole post here.


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On Silence As The Currency That Can Purchase Pastoral Formation (via Michael Milton)

Michael Milton provides counsel about formation as a minister of the Gospel in the guise of advice to a graduate, just about to begin pastoral ministry.
The observations he makes about preparation, pride, paradox and patience all ring true – and can be lessons that take a long time to learn. They are also applicable to many other areas of life.
From his introduction:

Silence can become a treasured and hard-earned currency in our sacred vocation. Silence is the legal tender that will buy the necessary implements for your greatest pastoral assignments: the salvation of others and the salvation and sanctification of yourself. I don’t mean to say that proclamation is secondary. It is not. Preaching is the use of words to declare the intent of God in the world. Silence is the way we best discover the words. Or, I should say, silence gives us the voice to speak and the capacity to understand what we mean. Silence may seem to be not only tenuous, inutile, but also a foolishly indistinct coinage of little value. Should you have that view now it will change later; that is, if you are to be used of the Lord. In your silence today, and I define silence as both a stillness of mind as well as tongue, a teachable posture of receiving, I want you to listen for the voice of God speaking to you through the sound of an old man. Hearing with the ears of your spirit will take more time to process. Spiritual listening is slower. But “slower” is something that you must acquire. In that process of hearing with your spirit, you will also discern what is the voice of the old man and what is the voice of God. The former can be used to fertilize your ministry or to be recognized as “spent” nutrients, with little proleptic power remaining. The latter is to be obeyed.

Read the whole post here.


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Every Christian’s Sermon Preparation (via Ryan McGraw)

There is usually a lot of preparation taking place on Saturday nights for sermons being preached on Sunday.
If you’re a Christian, even if you’re not going to preach, there’s sermon preparation that you can be doing as well.

From Ryan McGraw at Reformation21:

We should pray for preachers in light of the biblical definitions and goals of preaching. We should pray privately and corporately that the Spirit would accompany our pastors in their studies in order to achieve the aims of preaching. Do we pray that the Spirit would increase love for Christ in our ministers so that they would preach him devotionally? Do we pray that the Lord would grant them the skills needed to fulfill the duties of their office? Do we pray that Christ would give them the ability to apply their sermons wisely, warning every man and teaching every man in order to present every man perfect in Christ? (Col. 1:28). The role of church members in sermon preparation through prayer is equally vital (if not more so) as the pastor’s prayers throughout his studies. Through private and corporate prayer, we participate in the preparation of sermons.

read the whole post here


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On Needing Resurrection Power To Endure Suffering

In John 13 Jesus tells Peter “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”
Jesus is speaking of his death on the cross and the resurrection life that will be shared as a result.
Peter will learn that his own suffering would consume him without resurrection life within him.

Paul speaks of this in Philippians 3 when he writes in verse 10 “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”.
Jesus suffers, and is resurrected.
Because of his suffering and resurrection, for Jesus’ disciples the order is reversed.
We know the power of his resurrection, and because of that we are able to endure the sufferings that follow.

We could not endure going where he went, until he had first gone there alone.
Having gone and triumphed, we can now go there in his power.


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Refreshing The Saints (via Gentle Reformation)

Kyle Borg poses a question based on reflection about Philemon verse 7: “For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (emphasis added).

What am I to my brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus? Do I refresh or weary them? Do I give rest or restlessness? Am I a comfort or an anxiety? Do I encourage confidence or are people walking on egg shells around me? Am I blessing to those I am bound to in the gospel or a burden? Are the hearts of the saints being refreshed through me?

Read more at Gentle Reformation.


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A Menial Work, By Design (via David Powlison)

Although not central to the book’s theme, this tangental observation about pastoral life rings true:

…by design, ministry is menial work. It means being a servant, someone’s assistant, a helper. You are running errands. You lay down your life so that another person’s life might go better. Discontentment and complaining reveal pride, as if menial work were “beneath me.”

David Powlison, God’s Grace In Your Suffering, Crossway, 2018, pg. 41.

On to another day of service.


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The Better Question Believers Should Ask about God’s Will (via Jen Wilkin)

Most of the time questions about seeking God’s will for our lives revolve around questions about what we should do.
Jen Wilkin suggests the more pressing question the Bible deals with has to do with God’s will for what we should be.
It’s not that “what should we do?” is wrong, but “what should we be?” is more enduring and closer to the heart of the work of the Gospel in us.
Wilkin explains the priority in this way:

What good is it for me to choose the right job if I’m still consumed with selfishness? What good is it for me to choose the right home or spouse if I’m still eaten up with covetousness? What does it profit me to make the right choice if I’m still the wrong person? A lost person can make “good choices.” But only a person indwelt by the Holy Spirit can make a good choice for the purpose of glorifying God.

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