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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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Fulfilling A Calling Rather Than Advancing A Career

Joe McKeever offers what he characterises as the ten hardest lessons that pastors learn.
One picks up on a change that is not a simple adjustment of terms.
Pastors used to think in terms of calling.
Pastoring was a vocation, not a job, because it was something we were called to by God, not a role in which we were employed.
It seems that calling is giving way to the idea of a career in ministry.
McKeever offers the important distinction that needs to be kept in mind in pastoral life.

We do nothing to “enhance our career,” but do a thousand things to “fulfill our calling.”

Read his other observations here.

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Seeing Christians As Sheep To Be Fed, Not Beasts Of Burdens To Carry Your Agenda (by Peter Bogert)

Some words of reflection about a pastoral ministry philosophy that is firm, but gentle; and does not come communicate disappointment and demand.
Passion for growth of the kingdom can result as God’s people being seen as the means to implement a vision, rather than being the sphere in which the pastor serves.
From Peter Bogert:

…this all leads to a rather important question: do you see your people as sheep, or have they become something else? Let me explain.
More and more I find churches describing themselves by a desire to be influential. That particular word is not used, but it summarizes what is often found in the mission statements or purpose statements on church websites. And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a light in the darkness, we are not thinking clearly if we trade our focus as shepherds for one that increasingly calls its people to more and more activity. In other words, to put it plainly, our people do not exist in order to accomplish our goals for our churches.
We exist for them, not them for us.

Plenty more good thoughts here.

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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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Being Free From Fixing (via Christopher Asmus at the Gospel Coalition)

A list of eight areas (characterised as “shackles every pastor should shatter“).
This one is a very besetting aspect of pastoral ministry:

3. Be Free from Fixing
Some pastors are never happier than their saddest congregant, and they often feel personally responsible for every person and problem in the church.
Pastor, you can’t pull everyone from the clamps of depression, or salvage splitting marriages, or liberate addicts from their sin-shackles, or bring peace into wartime homes. But you can passionately, powerfully, and persistently point them to the One who can (2 Cor. 4:5; Acts 5:42).

Read the rest at Gospel Coalition.

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Living With Pastoral Anxiety (via Religious Affections Ministries)

This was an interesting article in which the writer describes the concern that pastors live with regarding the well-being of those they serve in ministry.
The concern is not a sign something is wrong, rather it is a mark of calling.
And it is part of our lives, to some degree or another, every minute of every day.
It may not be the only thing on our minds, but it is never completely absent from our minds.
And it is never completely resolved.
What can go wrong is the way pastors deal with the concern.
Sometimes we allow it to take us to dark places.
It should drive us to God.

From David Huffstutler:

It is a care for others and can tend toward worry and even despair if we do not cast these anxieties to God in prayer. It is the pressure of anxiety for others that moves us to act on behalf of the ones whose needs we perceive. It usually involves being anxious over people’s sin—we hope that they will forsake sin, grow in Christ, and persevere. In fact, 2 Corinthians 11:29Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) describes Paul as burning within (puroō) for those who are weak and fall. It also involves being anxious over people’s suffering—we hope that they will carry on in the face of difficulty and trial. Moreover, we hope that everyone will do these things together as they carry out the mission of the church and make disciples for the sake of the Name.

Read the whole post at Religious Affections Ministries.

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The Joy Of Staying Where You’ve Been Sent (via Karl Vaters)

Karl Vaters makes some observations arising from the deep and satisfying relationship between a congregation and a pastor.

If you are where God called you to be, that should be enough to keep you there.
You don’t have to prove your worth.
You don’t have to justify your calling.
You don’t have to see constant numerical increase.
You don’t have to be someone you’re not.
You have value. To God and his church.
Right here, right now. No matter what the numbers do or don’t look like.
Go where you’re called.
Love the people you pastor.
Reach out to others with Jesus’ love.
And stay until you’re moved.
They say the joy is in the journey.
Sometimes, the joy is in staying where you’ve been sent.