One of the gifts of the Spirit of God is that of pastors. (Eph. 4:8, 11.) No pastor can be successful in his ministry unless this gift of heaven is daily bestowed upon him. He should study often and meditate much upon the pastoral charge Jesus gave to Peter: "Feed My sheep. Feed My lambs." The objective of every pastor's work should be the salvation of souls. The burden on his heart should be to lead his people into a fuller, deeper experience in the things of God, and to prepare souls for entrance into the kingdom of heaven. The preacher's daily life out of the pulpit counts for more than his ministry in the pulpit, for the congregation practices what the preacher lives rather than what he says.
A great soul winner for God was given a young minister to train. In their first day's work this great preacher said to the young man, "We must go down in the village and preach today." They visit ed many places, mingling freely with the people, and as they were returning home in the afternoon, the young man said, "When do we preach?" The older man replied, "We have been preaching all day."
No man can be too careful of his influence, for every word, act, and look tells for or against Christ. No man can be a successful pastor unless he takes time for the milling of the Holy Spirit in his own heart and life. To do this he must take time for Bible and Testimony study, prayer, and careful examination of the motives and ambitions of his own heart and life. He must not neglect proper exercise and proper recreation. A cloudy, sour disposition disqualifies any man for spiritual leadership. A pastor should never shut himself up within himself, but should be approachable at any time by any needy soul.
He cannot work on the eight-hour basis, but must be on duty twenty-four hours a day, ready to answer any call for help, regardless of the time. He must be a man of faith, prayer, and consecration. He must have a clear spiritual vision, and lead the way himself He must feed the church on the Bread of Life, always providing for the spiritual needs of the children and young people. Christ and His saving grace must be the central theme of every sermon, and the third angel's message must be preached in simplicity and purity.
Dignity, order, and reverence must be maintained in all services. The Lord's house should be kept clean and attractive, both within and without. Never should old banners, posters, and charts be kept on display. Long services should be avoided. All services should begin and close on time. All services should be well planned for in advance, and no services should be allowed to drag along.
All speculation without Scriptural foundation should be avoided. Beware of fanaticism, fanatics, and extreme positions. Preach a positive gospel. Preach love, courage, faith, and the blessed hope. Never scold or complain or ridicule. Avoid unnecessary excuses. Attack the cause of worldliness rather than the symptoms. Be kind to those who criticize you, and profit by the criticism. It is oftentimes helpful.
The children of the church are God's heritage and the pastor's most fruitful field for soul winning. He should see that all the children of the church have the privileges and advantages of a Christian education. He should see that the sick and needy are cared for, and that the poor of the church are not left to suffer or to be buried in the county burial ground or potter's field. God will, and does, bless a church that cares for its needy.
A pastor should work closely with his church board. Divisions must never be allowed to enter. This is the work of the enemy and will defeat the work of the church. The pastor must never identify himself with any factions, or cliques. He must be a friend and brother to all, but he can better serve if he keeps himself free from entanglements.
Whenever possible, where difficulties arise between members, leave decisions for settlement to responsible committees chosen by the church or church board, thus avoiding the possibility of losing friendship and influence with the offending parties. The divine gifts of help and government have been given to many in the church, and these gifts, properly used, will many times save the pastor untold heartaches and leave him free for spiritual leadership.
The pastor must honor and respect the aged, especially elderly workers. He must never lose a sense of deep sympathy with the bereaved in their hours of sorrow, but must always extend a hand of sympathy to the suffering and sorrowing.
A successful pastor will always be friendly with the boys and girls. He will be interested in them and their problems and their spiritual growth, and his choicest food will be for them, within their reach. He will give careful study to the choice of faithful, well-qualified officers. He will plan wisely the missionary work of the church so that every member has something to do. Good music should be chosen for all services. It is a part of divine worship as much as the sermon or prayer, and a mighty influence in soul winning if properly rendered.
A pastor should always be humble, teachable, and friendly, and should never boast. He should drink deeply at the Fount of Life, and follow divine leadership in all things. Never should the church and his own house be forgotten. They are his first responsibility. He should study the Word, read good books, pray, take an active part in the Sabbath school, the M. V. Society, and all the other branches of church work. He must co-operate with the conference officials in the work they are endeavoring to carry forward.
Fellow ministers, never forget for one moment your high calling. Remember you are God's ambassadors; "keep thyself pure." "If a man is to preach the cross, he must himself be a crucified man."
Always meditate much upon your charge. "Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine." "But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." 2 Tim. 4:2,5.