"Could it be that one of the dark secrets of pastoral ministry is that a whole lot of what we do is driven by worry and not by faith?"

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Aaron Blumer's picture

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I see his point, but it kind of depends on what your default outlook is. Some pastors need to "worry" more (as in, be more concerned about the what-ifs of people's lives and of the flock as a whole).

2 Co 11:28–29 NKJV 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?

To me, the question is not "worry vs. faith" but "good reasons for worry/concern vs. bad reasons."
1. Faith has to include believing that really bad things can happen--so, in a way, "worry" can be driven by faith.

Ac 20:30–31 NKJV 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

2. "Worry" (our name for inadequately disciplined concern) can also be driven by ambition, a desire to gain a large following or lofty reputation, a twisted sense of self-importance, a competitive drive to be recognized as better than someone else, etc.

But I also think Tripp has a point. There should also be an overarching faith in the sovereign wisdom of God with the result that what-if thinking and worry/concern can't grow beyond a certain boundary. It's hemmed in by peace (John 14:27).

JD Miller's picture

Like so many things in the Christian life we need balance. We do not want to use "faith" as an excuse for apathy, nor should we depend on our own strength. I fear that sometimes well meaning preachers can end up pushing pastors over the edge as well. For example some talk about how many hours we should spend praying, others talk about how many hours we should spend in sermon prep. I had a seminary professor who told his class that they needed to spend 20 hrs on each message. I prepare 4 messages a week plus Bible study- that is 80 hrs right there without any prep time for the Bible study- and if I pray for 3 hrs a day that is 101hrs. Add another 10 hrs for witnessing and visitation and we are up to 111 hrs. Oh and then I had a former pastor tell me that every pastor should have a jail ministry so now we are up to 115hrs. Others will tell us how important youth ministry is so that will take another 5hrs- up to 120hrs now. Further we are told it is important that we read at least 50 books a year, so that will take another 10 hrs bringing us to 130 hrs. Of course the pastor has about 5 hrs of preaching through the week so we are up to 135. Because he has been shown how important a day of rest is, that 135 must be divided by 6 instead of 7, so he is left with 1.5hrs each day to eat sleep and spend time with family if he tries to do everything everyone says he should do. Oh, and he will not be able to sleep or eat if he has to prepare for a funeral.

Praise the Lord that I had been around ministry and was a bit older when I actually entered the pastorate so I have not gone to that extreme, but I can see how a young pastor might feel guilted into trying to do too much simply by what he has heard others saying. We need to be careful to motive those who are apathetic without pushing men beyond what God has required.

Not every pastor should have a jail ministry, a youth ministry, or even a visitation program. All those things are good and if staff and time allow, they are noble ministries. If you only preach once a week and have 20 hrs to prepare for it, by all means, use that time, but not everyone will have or need that much time to be used by God in the pulpit. One of the greatest open doors we have had in Bancroft has been through the nursing home ministry. This is not a ministry "I" had planned, but rather a door God opened. When God opens it it is easy, when we try to open it it is hard. Though the nursing home ministry has been a huge blessing, I will not suggest that every pastor should be involved in one. Instead of trying to start a bunch of new ministries or doing what others say we should do, perhaps we should began praying that God would open the doors He wants to open and be willing to shut the doors He is done with. The outreach ministry that I am currently involved with is not what I expected when we first came here, but it is what God has done and I am not overburdened either (though I do feel overwhelmed and tired at times the work is a joy not a drudgery).

christian cerna's picture

i agree with JD. a man should not attempt to take on more than he can handle. it is better to focus on one or two things, and to do those things well, than to try to be responsible for many things, and do none of them well.

the elders/pastors should also make sure that they do not create in the church, a belief that the church needs to go to them for every single thing that happens in the congregation. a good leader knows how to delegate responsibilities to others. remember, a good leader will train up other men to be future leaders in the church. a man of God knows that it is healthy to move on other things, once the responsibility has been placed in good hands.

if a pastor is overbearing, or tries to have control over everything, or doesn't trust others to do the job assigned to them- then this is not a man of faith. a man of faith knows that God is the one who prepares and equips men for ministry. and it is God who is the true Shepard of his people- and will protect them and guide them and sanctify them, so that they will be prepared for the heavenly kingdom.

Aaron Blumer's picture

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Yeah, JD... it helps to remember there are no "this many hours" verses in the NT!