In so many ways, pastoring is the greatest job in the world — mostly because it is not a job, but a calling.
We have the incredible opportunity to be some of the tools that God uses to build His kingdom, encourage His saints and reach a lost world with the love and saving power of Jesus Christ.
We have a hard job — the pay isn’t usually the greatest, our congregations can be cantankerous and contrary at times, our mission fields can feel drier than the Sahara Desert. We work and work, but we often see little growth or movement. It seems that we hear of pastors leaving the ministry in increasingly large numbers.
At times, it feels like Satan is winning.
But that’s not true! As long as we anchor ourselves to God’s foundation, we can rest assured He will be victorious through us.
Recently, I was reading the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–12. I’ve read them hundreds of times, but this time God impressed me to insert the words “are the pastors who” into each of the passages. When I did so, it revealed to me some painfully obvious deficiencies in my life and ministry. Let’s look at these very familiar verses in light of our calling.
“Blessed [are the pastors who] are poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Are we truly poor in spirit? Do we truly have that deep humility that requires us to lean wholly and completely on the immeasurable grace of God?
Blessed [are the pastors who] mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Are we truly mourning over the sin in this world, our congregations and ourselves? Have we become like the rest of the world that tolerates and even engages in the things that God calls sin?
Blessed [are the pastors who] are meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Do we have the power that God has given us under the control of the Holy Spirit? Are we prone to the same outbreaks of wrath as the rest of the world? Do we allow our emotions and whims to guide us instead of the rock-steady hand of the Living God?
Blessed [are the pastors who] hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Is it our passion to obtain Christlike righteousness that only a holy God can bestow? Are we spending enough time in His Word to allow our entire being to marinate in the wisdom of our Maker? Are we growing in righteousness as God directs?
Blessed [are the pastors who] are merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Do we show mercy as Christ showed to the woman at the well, or are we like Pharisees who condemned every wrong act and passed judgment upon those who are hurting?
Blessed [are the pastors who] are pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Are we giving our soiled and sin-soaked heart to a loving God who is the only One who can truly wash it clean? Are we comparing our hearts to Him or are we comparing it to those around us?
Blessed [are the pastors who] are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
Are we as pastors doing all we can to love and reconcile people to God? Are we being the peacemakers we are called to be, or are we being the spiritual sheriffs intent on filling our prisons with those who just don’t measure up?
Blessed [are the pastors who] are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Are we embracing the persecution of the world, or are we running from it because we don’t think it’s right or fair? According to this verse, facing the persecution of the world gives us the kingdom of heaven. Who wouldn’t want that?
Blessed [are the pastors who] are reviled and persecuted, and [they] say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
We need to always remember Who we represent. Many of those who fight against us are fighting against God, and we are the easy targets of a sinful world. We are to “rejoice and be exceedingly glad” to be worthy of the same treatment our Savior received.
Brothers in Christ, we all need to strive to be more than just pastors. We need to actively and persistently pursue His Christlike nature. May God bless each of in your work, your walk and your witness.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Dave Walsh. Dave Walsh has served as a pastor approximately 25 years and currently serves as pastor of Ariton Baptist Church in Alabama.