Friday, June 13, 2008

An Encouraging Thought for Pastors

I found myself sharing this to encourage a friend today, and in mulling it over, I thought it worth sharing with you all.

Do you ever have those times when you realize that you're not the best preacher in the world, nor the best administrator of a church in the world, nor the best to visit a hospital in the world, nor the best to comfort the bereaved, nor the best to make peace in a conflict? Do you ever have those times when you see yourself as average in all areas of your ministry? Below average?

In over twenty years of pastoral ministry (yes, I got an early start), I've had plenty of moments when I wondered why God had assigned this task to me. I see my own inadequacies so sharply, and it hurts all the more to see those inadequacies not in the pursuit of some trivial task, but in the service of the greatest, most critical function in all the world. Sometimes it makes me want to step aside and leave the pastorate to those better qualified, because I encounter them and know that they are out there.

But then two things steel my resolve:

  1. God DID call me to this task. It was real. It was dramatic. It changed my life. And that moment in the summer of my eleventh year has been one of my touchstones since that day. I cannot abandon my post except by deliberately disobeying my Lord.
  2. The Southern Baptist Convention consists of more than 42,000 local congregations, or so we hear. That means, if I could name 5,000 pastors who are all better gifted than me in every single area of pastoral ministry, there are still more than 7 out of 8 Southern Baptist churches that need a pastor just like me.

So, start working on your list. I'll bet that you don't make it to 42,000. I'll bet that you don't make it to 5,000. I'll bet that you don't even make it to 1,000. If God called you to preach, He did so for a reason. The need is too great for you to throw in the towel. In face of such a compelling need, our only responsible action is to obey God, serve faithfully, and try by God's grace to improve a little every day.


pastorleap said...


Yes... I feel this way every day. And Yes... your thoughts are indeed encouraging. In spite of all my feelings of inadequacy, I too am rooted in the surety of my calling and the surety of the knowledge that in my inadequacies, Christ's sufficiency and strength is made perfect.

My total inadequacy to perform the pastoral task is exactly why I need the Great Shepherd to live in and work through me.

Thanks for the reminder. And thanks for your work on the resolution on RCM.


Bob Cleveland said...

And ... that thought applies to other activities in His service, too. I'm sure there are lots of better SS teachers than I, but they're not around my class on Sunday mornings so they can't very well teach it, I suppose.

God uses the people who show up.

Anonymous said...

Bart, I printed this out for my husband to read. He's not much into internet blogging. Thanks for the encouragement. Sometimes (often) I feel this way about my writing. selahV

Pastor Mike said...

Thanks Bart. JD Greear has an awesome quote from William Carey on his blog today. You might want to check it out. It was good seeing you in Indy, and once again, thanks for the ride in the rain.

Tim G said...

Great word Bart.