Complete Patience

Speaking on pastoral caution when dealing with change, and recounting advice given to him by a trusted and “seasoned” pastor, H. B. Charles Jr. points the reader at 2 Timothy 4:2. Rather than focus on the “preach the Word” part, these men instead point us to the closing words, “…with complete patience and teaching.” Some great comments flow out of this:

“Complete patience” is long-suffering. It is patience with difficult people, not just difficult circumstances. This is not an easy thing to do. Remember, Moses stood courageous before Pharaoh and demanded that he let the people of God go free. But when those same people started complaining, Moses sinned against God and was disqualified from leading the children of Israel into Canaan. As pastors, we must not play the Jonah…I’m talking the Jonah at the end of the story, who carried out his ministry assignment with a hateful attitude towards the very people he was called to serve. We must patiently love the people the Lord has called us to lead and teach.

How do you learn to practice complete patience with the people you pastor? I believe it happens through a commitment to biblical teaching. Teaching explains and exhorts biblical truth…Our willingness to teach the Word with complete patience demonstrates our confidence in Scripture. It reveals that you believe in the sufficiency of God’s Word to do its work in the life of the church. At the end of the day, true spiritual change does not happen by “casting vision.” It happens by faithfully teaching doctrinal truth. This is an essential but neglected key to faithful and effective pastoral ministry.

On Pastoring, pp.89-90

All this goes towards making a great point. Sometimes, it is best to be slow. Our culture’s quest for speed and results doesn’t always line up with God’s timing. Teach, and teach again. Or as he comments, “Teach it. Then wait. Teach it again. Then wait. Teach. And wait.” If our aim is more than numbers, more than just a big reputation – whether good or bad – then we must be about the long haul. Commit to patiently and lovingly teach God’s word. A healthy church does not just materialize over night. It is the fruit of patient work. More than that, it is a work of God’s Spirit through that consistent and patiently preached and taught Word.

On Pastoring – Guard The Bank

On Pastoring

Lately, I’ve been reading On Pastoring by H.B. Charles, Jr. a few minutes each day. It has short, powerful and incisive chapters that are perfect for quick reads while waiting for other things to complete. In any case, the following from yesterday caught my attention:

A new pastor began his ministry with the key leaders of the church board. The church board members introduced themselves and told the new pastor about their area of ministry. Each department leader proceeded to tell him what was expected of him, stressing the importance of their department, and making it clear that the kingdom of heaven was at hand only if the pastor devoted his chief energy to that department. The long series of speeches and the tension-filled atmosphere made it impossible for him to give a detailed reply to all he heard. So when the series of priority-shaping speeches finally ended, the pastor stood up and said, “Thank you for your advice. I will try to please you all, but I shall try most of all to please God.” He then prayed and ended the meeting.

This is what it means to guard the bank. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by secondary things. Do not use your strength to climb a ladder that is leaning against the wrong wall. Do not spend your energy running in different directions at the same time to please people. Focus on the things that spread the gospel, build up the saints, and glorify the Lord.

On Pastoring, p.67

He goes from there to looking at Acts 20:28-31, reflecting on Paul’s own attitude along these same lines. It is just so easy to get caught up in “good” things, and allow the main things – the bank – to get robbed. The attempt to please everybody, especially, tends towards distraction, and ultimately, failure to accomplish the task actually before us. Pleasing our Lord Jesus comes first in the task of pastoring, as it does in any other endeavor. It is no wonder our church articulates “Treasuring Jesus Christ” as our first mission!

And with that in mind, pray for me that I will be focused and diligent with the things God has put in front of me. I pray you too will treasure Jesus Christ today, and serve him first and most.