This statement may be premature since it is only 3:21 PM, however, so far I am having one of those days where God impresses upon me why I so love pastoral ministry.
I distinctly remember God calling me to pastoral ministry. I was at a church service as a teenager where a missionary was speaking about planting churches in the Philippines. He spoke of the need for pastors who labored at equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry. Such a notion energized me and I was sure it is what I wanted to do with my life- equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ...
To "equip" the saints includes all sorts of varied labors, but chiefly it refers to instructing in the Word of God. I do not take the task of reading, exhorting, and teaching the Word of God to mean something solely intellectual or academic, but rather an activity that includes teaching the Word of God and helping others to live it out. To be a shepherd, in my view, means to be with the sheep while instructing, not standing at a distance and delivering discourses each Sunday. I am most invigorated when I am able to preach/teach and interact with the members of our church. I am most frustrated when I get bogged down in so-called administrative stuff (committee meetings, answering endless policy-type questions, checking on various ministry staffing issues, trying to recruit volunteers for this or that, facility-related oversight, computer stuff, etc.).
I have been at Redeemer for 11 years this Mother's Day. My time here has been priceless. I feel like the most blessed pastor in the world. I have an awesome ministry team and the relationship between the eldership is truly unique. The people of Redeemer come ready for the Word of God to be preached and they really want to live it out. My wife deeply loves the congregation and our children are wonderfully integrated in to the life of this church and our school. The challenge, quite honestly, for me, has been to keep to my calling to "equip the saints" in the midst of so much other stuff to do. The administrative stuff I alluded to has choked out much of my time and effort off and on during these 11 years. I am confident most pastors have a similar experience. Few are the pastors who do nothing but preach, teach, and disciple. Our church has been in a constant state of transition for its whole existence, even before I arrived. There are constantly moving parts that never seem to slow and us pastors always feel like we're juggling 5 or 6 balls at once. I am not saying this to complain, in fact, it is a blessing to be at such a place. I am easily (maybe sinfully) bored, so the regular progress and motion is largely exciting to me. Still, I do look forward to our maturing in such a way as to allow the pastors to do more equipping, shepherding, encouraging, discipleship, etc. We're getting there.
All this to say...
As I alluded to at the beginning of this post, today reminded me of where my passion lies. I met with an elder for mutual encouragement this morning for breakfast then came in to the office to meet with my fellow pastors (Nathan and Brian) to discuss important shepherding matters. I continued an email exchange with a couple in the thick of making a major decision. I posted on my blog concerning a snake regurgitating a Tapir (and this post also), I have also been able to take time studying a biblical issue that a new family is struggling with and wants to discuss with me tomorrow. I have spent time planning the next sermon series as well as continue study for my last sermon from Hosea this coming Lord's Day. Before day's end, I will start preparation for the Sunday evening service where I am teaching on the sovereignty of God in relationship to sin (real light topic!). My wife called me earlier and we discussed a discipleship matter concerning one of our families and hymn selections for worship.
I'll tell you what, this has been a great day. This is what I live to do. Days like this serve to remind me of why I pursued pastoral ministry. In light of this, I just read one of my favorite pastoral passages:
1 Timothy 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.