Pastors are instructed to be examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:3). The pastor can feel a bit overwhelmed when considering the implications of that instruction. Because of this, we can lose sight of the need to mature and grow for the sake of our own personal sanctification, not solely because others are looking to us. In light of this temptation, here are a few areas that pastors need to double-check to make sure there is annual progressive growth. These revolve around the pastor’s soul and the longevity of his ministry:
1) A closer walk and intimacy with Christ. Pastors should honestly evaluate whether they feel closer to Christ and the fellowship of his spirit is sweeter now than a year ago. The power behind a pastor’s ministry is how closely he walks with God every day, relies upon Christ, trusts in his Word, and grows in holiness because of it.
2) A greater love and appreciation for his wife. Every year a pastor completes, he not only survived another year of pressures and demands of ministry, but so did his wife. Additionally, she walked through the pressures and demands with him and cared for him through them. Pastor, if you find you are not growing in love and appreciation for your wife, it is an indictment you have lost sight of the unique treasure she is to you, your children, and your ministry.
3) A greater resolve to shepherd and invest in his children. Time with our children is flying by. One more year means they have had one more year of the world to mold their character and form their thinking, or you have by teaching them God’s Word and modeling that Word before them. Time is ticking. Other things can wait. Do not waste one year with them.
4) A heightened sense of his expendability. I have been saying for a while now that I want the mantra of my ministry to be “Expendable, but Appreciated.” If we see ourselves as more expendable every year, then we will be leading, delegating, and shepherding in such a way that will not build the church around us. It is good for the pastor’s soul to remember God does not need us, but allows us to participate in this kingdom work.
5) An increased appreciation by others for his labors. This is the one that is more out of our control as we cannot control what others think of us, nor should we try. However, if we are making ourselves more expendable, then hopefully the affection of our people towards us comes from appreciation for our labors, not because we are essential to the church’s survival. This should not be difficult as we have had one more year to do what we do. One more year of praying and ministering the Word with our folks. One more year of them sitting under our public preaching. One more year to be in their homes and visiting them in the hospital. One more year to be with them and guiding them when tragedy strikes.
There are certainly more, but these are the ones I think are most important when thinking about essential annual growth of the pastor. Out of all that could be chosen, I pray you see the strategic nature of this list. Steady, annual growth in each of these areas are essential for a long, fruitful ministry.
Which of these are hardest to grow in for you?