Shepherding the Flock

Hebrews 13: 17

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

It is hard to be a pastor. Even harder to be blessed with divine sight. I want to help people and sometimes I can see so clearly exactly where they are. I know I could help them. Sometimes I even offer, but I can’t invade. They must ask for my help. I can even give people a prophetic word but if they don’t move on it or ask for more, the moment and the opportunity may pass. I feel the resolution so close but for that person, it may be to them as looking through fog. If they only knew how close they were to their breakthrough. Just take my hand. Let me help you!

I have been asking the Lord a lot about ministry over the last year. What is our role? What good are any of us actually doing? I watched the church as a whole fail miserably when the Covid Pandemic struck. We lost our Billy Graham and there was no voice to fill the void. What is it that any of us can do? What should we be doing for our congregations?  What do people need and/or want?

There are many more questions, as the issue is quite complicated. You are part of the situation too. You aren’t sure where to turn or whether or not a pastor can actually help you. The role of the minister has gotten lost. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just a difficult time. Even before the pandemic, parishioners were changing, and the church was struggling to change to meet those changing needs.

Here is the good news. All bets are off. We are free to rewrite the book on ministry. God has given us lots of guidance in His book and He is showing us new ways we can help the people for which He will hold us accountable.  We can remake the church, saving parts and adding new things too.

I believe the ministry to which God has called me is being remade to meet new challenges. A great deal of what any minister does, though, depends on you. We, as ministers, must give you invitation to take advantage of the anointing which is upon us. That will only happen if you believe God has anointed us with ministry gifts. Second, if we make it taboo for people to ask their ministers for help then it will become a sign of weakness instead of a sign of wisdom for people to ask their ministers for their leadership. Here is the thing, I know there is a place and time for us to stand in the pulpit but there is also a time when we need to minister in small groups and individually. You need to call us. You need to pull on us so that we hear the need. And, you need to let us help you. We do have skills and gifts we would give to you. Though, truth be told, we are learning new ways every day with which to meet the needs of God’s people.

The challenges are very real because the landscape is changing. We do not always know how to offer the help you need nor do you know where the new boundaries lie. Neither do we but it is a brave new world with new potential. Let your ministers help you, nay, demand that we do. We will find our way in this new world, together. You will lead us by your requests, and we will lead with the gifts of God’s Spirit. Life, the church and the needs of the congregation have changed forever. Together, we will rebuild in ways that we couldn’t have foreseen years ago. We will rebuild stronger than ever and with more of the life and light of Christ than before. We needn’t mourn what we’ve lost but rather look ahead to the new thing God has in store for us. He hasn’t lost His way.

The anointing, which is upon pastors and ministers, has been given, by God, to bless His people. Do not let those gifts die on the vine. Call on the ministers of God to minister His grace and wisdom. Call upon us to fulfill our calling.

Thanksgiving Tuesday

Luke 6: 38

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.

Today is giving Tuesday. It has been harder for generous people to give this year. Some of the places where you volunteered time were shut down for months. Some programs are still struggling for volunteers. Many, many charitable organizations have suffered tremendously. While some people have been able to buy a takeout meal at a local restaurant to help sustain the restaurant during these troubled times, non-profit organizations have not had the same opportunities. Churches and ministries have been among those most hurt by the coronavirus. We have all been, truly, living on faith.

At the same time, many ministries and churches are experiencing higher than normal costs. Money has, needfully, been invested into websites and online platforms. The cost of sending out God’s Word has escalated while revenues have plummeted. On this day, a day dedicated to giving, the balance sheet can be impacted for great good.

This year I am explicitly asking you to give to ministries. Giving Tuesday is about giving to organizations doing all kinds of good works. They are all worthy. How can one say that St. Jude, or the MS Society or any of the other great organizations are not doing great work? They are! But, where is the church in our giving plan? This Giving Tuesday I want to make it about what Christians can do for all the ministries that have been working so very hard this year to keep believers built up and encouraged. Ministers have suffered in their own spirits crying out to God for the words which would help believers during this challenging time. It is the closest most of us will ever come to sweating blood.

I want you to know that your pastors and ministers have toiled on your behalf and prayed their throats almost raw. It has been a tough year to be a minister, but I cannot think of a year when the job has been more important. So, this year I am asking you to bless the ministers and pastors in your life and the organizations through which they serve. It is a day to show appreciation and to encourage those who have tried so valiantly to encourage you over the last many months. Let your heart of compassion well up within you to show your appreciation and love. And may your gifts be multiplied back to you a hundredfold.

Honor and Respect

Psalm 105: 15, Isaiah 49: 25, Genesis 12: 3

Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm. For I will contend with the one who contends with you. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.

These three verses come together to make one big point, don’t mess with God’s anointed. First, I think of our pastors. God has called people out of other professions they might have chosen to apply themselves to His work. The pay scale is not typically commiserate with what they could make in the secular world. They often have limited budgets and limited personnel to work with but despite all the limitations they are expected to be miracle workers. I believe the expectation is even reasonable. Where I think we have a problem is in our respect for those God has called.

It is very easy to criticize the pastor. We live in an egalitarian age which I believe is good but that does not entitle us to demean anyone much less our spiritual leaders. It is in our best interest to honor our pastors because our own blessing is included in our homage and respect to them. God Himself says He will contend with those who oppose or denigrate His called ones. This should be a loud warning to us. People aren’t perfect, not even our pastors but they are called by God and anointed by Him. His protection is on them so we criticize them at our own peril.

It is important to note that you are God’s anointed to. That means these protections extend to you also. All of God’s children are ministers of God’s grace and called to carry the gospel to the world but His teachers, pastors, prophets, etc. are appointed to prepare us to take the good news into all the world. So even though we are all ministers, and all loved by the Father, He still does not allow us to run down those He has chosen to minister to us and to Him.

Heed this warning, because God has said and intends to honor and protect his elected. Stay in the blessing by blessing those God has given you.