The Makings of Ministry in Pastoral Life
Quite a few years ago, I was riding in the car with my parents. I wanted them to hear a new r&b song from a ‘hot new artist’ by the name of Musiq Soulchild. This song, entitled ‘Just Friends’ echoed a subtle sentiment of admiration of a guy’s feelings for a young lady. Needless to say, my Dad was unimpressed and unincumbered by my interest. Later my father, who is a music lover at heart, pulled out an old album of Curtis Mayfield and began to play for me ‘The Makings of You.’ The song began to describe every ideal of the perfect life at it’s finest, surrounded by aesthetic beauty, roses, well-behaved children and the like….and then he tells the object of his affection, ‘These are the makings of you…!’ Admittedly, I was completely floored and this began my quest of further learning the art of ‘real music.’
As I reflect, I cannot help but wonder – what are the makings of ministry? Further, I wonder – what are the makings of ministry in Pastoral life? The ministry of the Pastor is more than meets the eye. Jeremiah 3:15 says, “And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” God says that He will do the giving while shepherds are given the responsibility of doing the feeding. When one looks at the dynamics of a culinary artist, many of the details of their works is behind closed doors. We may often enjoy the products of their due diligence; but we often fail to see their labor, toil and endeavors.
As stated before, we celebrated 3 years together as Pastor and People at the Mt. Salem Church. To date, this has been the greatest outer expression of love from a congregation I’ve felt as a Pastor. That being said, we had a few challenges with initial renovations of walls in our sanctuary. In the past 48 hours, I have privately called these walls, ‘The walls of Jericho!’. On the day prior to my anniversary celebration, I went through the ordeal of how to work around these incompletions and, in my ‘perfectionist’ complex, I thought I was going to fly to the moon. In addition, our toilets were not flushing at the church. At some point, I simply prayed, gave it over to God and dealt with what I could. Amid my own private realities (one of which was picking up my ‘anniversary suit’ from my suit guy of over 10 years and for the first time I didn’t try on the suit-since they always get it right-it was wrong….pants were 2 inches TOO LONG! Not good…) I got through it. I went to bed Saturday night at peace and confident in God’s faithfulness.
Needless to say God blessed the entire day!!! Amid all of this….I still found myself dealing with the usual joys and sorrows, twists and turns of pastoral life. In the midst of great celebration, I had to contemplate how to deal with the issues of the ‘Jericho Walls.’ In the midst of great celebration, I asked one of my beloved members how they were doing and how a recent doctor’s appointment had gone; only for that member to inform me that cancer was in her blood; and while her doctor is saying it is ‘non-aggresive’, it can turn ‘aggressive’ at any moment. In the midst of this, I closed out the day hearing from one of my young members (who was instrumental in launching our praise team and re-shaping certain aspects of our worship service) he will be transferred to Fort Worth, Texas later next month with his job.
These are the makings of the ministry of pastoral life. This happens every week; and often every day of the week. Having the heart of a Pastor is essential in leading God’s people. If we fail to love God’s people, we will fail to feed them. And there is nothing more detrimental than a starved, malnourished, neglected and abused flock. If you are a Pastor and reading this, I pray for you daily. If you are a layperson, PLEASE, pray for your Pastor. Your Pastor may not be perfect; and you may disagree with some of the moves made in the ministry or vision of Christ’s church; but please pray for your Pastor. My experiences of this past weekend, for me, simply point to the reality that I am where God wants me; and where He has planted me. I’m loving this ride; and looking forward to what God will continue to unfold along the way. The BEST is truly YET to come!!!