Pastor's Pastor: A progress report

Pastor's Pastor: Looking at the next six months: A progress report

Pastor's Pastor: Looking at the next six months: A progress report

James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

During the course of a grading period, students receive periodic assessments from their teachers. These progress reports accomplish two purposes: they tell the students what they’ve accomplished thus far, and they help the students to see what they need to do in order to make or maintain a good grade. Such assessments can come at various times during the quarter or semester—perhaps weekly or perhaps halfway through the grading period.

As we approach the halfway point of 2009, I think this is a good time for us, as ministers, to administer selfevaluations. Taking an honest look at ourselves helps us to see what we’re doing well and, if needed, develop a plan to address those areas where we could do better.

So what items comprise this progress report?

Spiritual formation

Indispensable weapons in the pastor’s arsenal include prayer and Bible study. Paul speaks of the importance of the Word of God when he refers to it as the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17, KJV). Without consistent study of God’s Word, we are powerless against the assaults of Satan.

As for prayer, maintaining those open lines of communication with God can be evaluated as better than just communicating with our own spouse, as important as that should be considered. And those of us who are married know that good communication with our spouse greatly enhances the relationship. God loves to hear us talk to Him too, but talking to Him isn’t just about us telling Him what we’re thinking or what we want. In talking to Him, we open ourselves both to understanding Him better and understanding ourselves better.

How are you doing in relation to spiritual formation?

Family

While we probably do not even need to emphasize that the most important relationship is our vertical relationship with God, the most important horizontal relationship is that which we have with our families. For those of us who are married, our spouse stands second in importance— behind God. Pastors also owe to their children all the love and nurture they can possibly give them. This sharing and communicating is particularly critical during the early and teen years.

Yet another element relating to family must not be overlooked—we must never overlook or neglect our parents, especially as they age. There was a time when we greatly depended upon them. The time comes when they greatly depend upon us.

How are you doing as you relate to family?

Support of colleagues

While pastors often gather together in associations based on laboring in the same city or a particular denomination, pastors, nevertheless, spend a lot of time isolated from one another. The demands placed upon pastors can make it difficult to make time to call or visit other pastors. This becomes especially true if the pastor has more than one church in the district.

But what greater source of encouragement can there be than for a pastor to pick up the phone and call another pastor while sharing a thoughtful word or prayer? Who better understands what pastors experience on a daily basis than other pastors?

How are you doing in relation to supporting your fellow pastors?

Evangelism

I have written this column and have thus far avoided any mention of what pastors do. The reason? Before we can labor we must spend time with Christ as we nurture ourselves. The disciples of Jesus first spent time with Him before going forth to minister (cf. Mark 3:14).

The year 2009 has been designated the Year of Evangelism for the Adventist Church worldwide. Many of you have already conducted at least one evangelistic series this year and are planning at least one more. Others of you are constantly engaged in evangelistic projects all year-round.

When we conduct evangelism, we are reminded that we are building on the foundation that the pastors who preceded us have already laid. Success does not belong to one person; rather, success is a team effort—and that team includes both pastor and church members. Indeed, no pastor can succeed without strong local church leadership and involvement. And, all our labors are successful because of Christ—He’s ultimately responsible for church growth (cf. 1 Cor. 3:7).

How are you doing in relation to evangelism?

Preaching

Always preach the great themes of Scripture. Among them: the love of God; Christ’s life, death, and resurrection; the power of God to deliver us from sin’s penalty and power; and the second coming of Christ. Life-giving power comes to us when we preach Christ and Him crucified. That power invigorates those who hear us preach, but it first invigorates us before and while we preach.

How are you doing in relation to preaching?

Conclusion

There are many other topics I could discuss, but these are just a few that we can use as measuring devices to determine where we are and where we are going. May God bless us as we strive onward and upward in service to Him and others.

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James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

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