Sometimes we make things too complicated. As pastors, we can get so busy that we forget the things that are really needed. A while back I read a blog by James MacDonald that just made sense to me. It was entitled “Three Things Every Pastor Must Do.” Just three things.
Here are the three areas which can bring fruitful years of ministry:
1) Love the People
It begins right here – loving others! This is something that can’t be faked. Remember that old saying? “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” People will extend you grace as you give them love. The Bible says that love covers a multitude of sins, and that certainly applies to the way a congregation views the faults of their pastor.
James MacDonald wrote these scathing words: “I am amazed at the number of well-known ministers today who give no obvious signs that they truly love the people they serve. They don’t comfort in a crisis; others do that. They don’t meet personally even with leaders in the church; ‘we have staff to handle that.’ They don’t express love from the pulpit or exhibit love in the lobby.” Bottomline: If you don’t love others, you shouldn’t be in ministry!
2) Feed the People
Jesus made this pretty clear to Peter in the closing sentences of John’s gospel. “Feed my sheep, feed my sheep, feed my sheep.” He said it three times so we wouldn’t miss it!
So who do we feed the sheep as God’s undershepherds? MacDonald said it comes from one source — God’s Word. “Scripture and only Scripture feeds the sheep!”
During our Local Conference Gatherings, I’ve been sharing the “Core Commitments of the Pacific Conference.” It begins with this very thing — Biblical Faithfulness. It states that “We value the Bible, as God’s Holy Word, which we look to as the authority for our beliefs, the guide for living, and motivation for mission. It contains absolute truth and infallibly reveals God’s plan for our lives. We are committed to faithfully and accurately preach the Word and apply it to our daily lives.” As we faithfully feed God’s people they can grow and respond to our leadership.
3) Admit When You Are Wrong
MacDonald writes, “Pastors are frequently wrong. Our opinion is flawed, our conduct is imperfect, our leadership is lacking, and even our best intentions can come up short.”
Admit it when you are wrong and be willing to change. Be teachable. Submit to those who oversee you. “Even if you can’t see it, accept it by faith, and you will lengthen your tenure with any even mildly mature gathering of God’s people.”
Just those three things, do them consistently and you will do better as a pastor and last longer in any church.
BEFORE YOU GO
In my ministry, I try to take times to reflect. One thing that has been helpful is being coached. I need that level of accountability and encouragement. Another is regularly scheduling times of prayer and planning. These are touch points for me to remind me to check these three areas in my own ministry. How about you? How do you know when you are faithfully accomplishing these tasks?
Source: James MacDonald (D. Min. Phoenix Seminary) is the founding senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, leads the church planting ministry of Harvest Bible Fellowship.