How many aspects are there to a pastoral ministry? A thousand? There’s preaching, studying, pastoral calling, counseling, administration, writing, moderating business meetings, conflict resolution, teaching, prayer, denominational service, motivation, planning meetings, mentoring, correspondence, communication, and cartooning. (Okay, I just put the last one in there because it was always a part of my pastoral work.)
Now, under each of those categories there are subdivisions. “Preaching” involves various kinds of preaching, different styles and reasons and goals. “Studying” may involve learning the original languages, reading theological textbooks, combing through commentaries, reading books of sermons, and pursuing all kinds of online resources.
Okay. Now, here’s the point.
If we made a list of one thousand aspects of a typical pastoral ministry, we would find someone somewhere who is passionate about each one.
I guarantee you that someone somewhere is passionate about writing a column for the church newsletter, someone else is passionate about staff meetings, another is passionate about pastoral calling in the homes of members. A huge percentage of preachers is passionate about delivering sermons and a smaller percentage about doing the study which preaching requires.
Passion. It means a single-mindedness. Whatever is our passion turns us on, drives us, pulls us, motivates us. We love it above all else. If the ministry were taken away from us today, this is what we would miss most.
Figure out the five worst jobs in your ministry, pastor, and somewhere there are preachers who love those tasks above all else. The human animal is complex and comes in ten thousand varieties.
No, ten billion is more like it. With no two alike. Anyway….
I cannot quit thinking about a conversation with James in my office one day. He had pastored several churches and owned two seminary degrees, but at the moment was “between churches.” As the director of missions, I was the denominational go-to guy to help him find a church. At least, in his thinking I was.
“I have to preach, Joe!” he said, growing excited. “It’s in my blood! I’m passionate about preaching.”
I knew that about him, and therefore used that moment to make a point.
“Jim, that might be the problem, my friend.”
“What do you mean?”
“Preaching should not be your passion. Jesus should be your passion.”
Give him credit. Jim took that like a man. In fact, he settled back down in his chair and, after a moment, said, “Wow. Thank you for that. You are so right.”
So, what is your passion, preacher? And how does it compare with your passion for Jesus?