The perils and privileges of pastoral ministry

It is so easy and professionally acceptable to neglect appropriate self-care while encouraging others to intentionally replenish physically, emotionally, and socially.

Derek Morris is editor of Ministry Magazine.

We hear a great deal about the perils of pastoral ministry—and there are many. We constantly run the risk of becoming so preoccupied with serving others that we ourselves spend little or no time at the feet of Jesus. We also face the ever-present danger of neglecting our own families in an unbalanced attempt to care for our church families 24/7. It is so easy and professionally acceptable to neglect appropriate self-care while encouraging others to intentionally replenish physically, emotionally, and socially.

These perils, and others unnamed, are very real and need to be candidly discussed and intentionally avoided. You’ll appreciate the lead article by Willie and Elaine Oliver. They provide a strategy for avoiding many perils in ministry: the art of strategic neglect.

While recognizing and addressing the perils of pastoral ministry, we would also do well to remember and appreciate the wonderful privileges that come with our pastoral assignment.

Many years ago I served as a local church pastor in Allentown, Pennsylvania. There I was blessed to meet a young adult named Nathan Krause. His day job was at a local foundry, and he taught martial arts in the evenings. I shared the truths about Jesus with this young man and eventually baptized him. 

My pastoral care for Nathan didn’t end there. I encouraged him to attend a Christian college, spoke at his graduation, performed his wedding, and offered prayers of dedication for both of his children. Then our friendship took an interesting turn. When I moved to the Washington, DC, area to assume my current responsibilities, Nathan became my pastor. This gave me another opportunity to reflect on the privilege of pastoral ministry. Seeds sown years ago can yield a bountiful harvest. While we know this is all God’s work, we can rejoice as we see the miracle of God in progress.

For the past few months, I have assisted as a volunteer interim pastor in a local church. My primary responsibility is to preach on a regular basis. Once again I am challenged to search the Scriptures, search my own heart, and be attentive to the lives of my hearers in order to share the Word of God. What a sacred responsibility and joyful privilege.

In connection with this pastoral assignment, I was also asked to speak to the students and teachers at our local church school. It brought joy to my heart to hear the students singing their school song: “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” I was familiar with the Scripture passage, but I had never heard it sung with such enthusiasm or seen such energetic hand gestures. After my worship talk, several students came over and greeted me. The little ones hugged my waist, and the more mature students shook my hand. Their etiquette teacher would have been proud of them. I was reminded once again of the privilege of pastoral ministry.

Each Wednesday evening we have a House of Prayer in our home. This midweek prayer service is open to anyone in our community. Recently, we shared a prayer quilt with a young mother facing a major health challenge. Our home was filled with Bible study partners and friends, along with our regular attendees. As I saw the love of God poured out and listened as prayers ascended in the name of Jesus, I was reminded once again of the great privilege of serving as a local church pastor. I’m not sure how long my responsibilities as a volunteer interim pastor will continue, but I’m thankful for the opportunity. I have been reminded once again that pastoral ministry has joys as well as sorrows, privileges as well as perils, and blessings as well as problems. So when you’re having a hard day, a hard week, or even a hard season, remember to look at the big picture. Allow the Good Shepherd to walk with you through the perilous dark valley, and take time to reflect on and give thanks for the privileges of pastoral ministry. 

Advertisement - Ministry in Motion 300x250

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

Derek Morris is editor of Ministry Magazine.

June 2015

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

It often starts with one

Reflections from our continuing Revival and Reformation series.

Pastoral ministry in the third millennium: Learning the art of strategic neglect

Strategic neglect: What is it and how can it help make your family stronger?

The church, Scripture, and adaptation: Resoluteness in essentials, adaptation in peripherals—Part 1 of 2

A look at what matters the Scriptures consider not negotiable and what may be adaptable, and even modified, to meet human need and the mission of the divine community.

My efforts should never cease

More reflections from our revival and reformation series.

Ellen G. White’s contributions to the Seventh-day Adventist Church

A few words on how the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s formative years were influenced by one of its founders, Ellen G. White.

Specialness, urgency, expectancy: Essential basis for local church culture

As a church, we must continually review what God has already done and remember what we can accomplish through His power.

A spatial shift in Luke-Acts: From the earthly to the heavenly sanctuary

What is what the author calls “salvation history,” and how is it reflected in Luke’s writings?

A quarter century of ministry: A few observations

A seasoned pastor shares seven observations to help strengthen your ministry.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated

Trending

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - Healthy and Happy Family - Skyscraper 160x600