Perhaps the greatest failing of godly pastor-husbands

Many a preacher who loves the Lord, enjoys his ministry, and seems to be doing well, wishes he had married differently.

His wife does not appreciate him sufficiently.

Give me a break.

Here’s what this looks like…..

Pastor Chuck is sold out to the Lord and completely committed to the ministry to which he was called.  The church he serves is doing well.  Everything is fine, except for one small thing….

His wife irritates him sometimes.

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Five facts about pastors most church members are unclear on

“Shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

In my experience, most pastors hesitate to teach the biblical understanding of the role of pastors because to do so might sound self-serving, as though they were trying to carve out a bigger role for themselves in leading the church.  This is a serious error for which we are now paying as many congregations are turning the minister into a hired hand, employing him as an errand boy, or treating him as an executive brought in to lead their “country club.”

Pastor, preach the whole Word of God.  Be bold in declaring its truth.  Then, having done this, go forth and set new standards for humbly serving the congregation.  Let them see you leading by serving and no one will ever mind calling you their pastorand following you.  However, lord it over them and dominate the decisions and no one who knows his Bible will want to follow you.

What follows is the truth on the role of pastors as taught in Scripture. It’s not “all” the truth, for this is but one simple article.  However, it cuts to the heart of the issues….

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When the pastor lives below the standard of his church leaders

Here’s a situation that might surprise some church members to know preachers deal with and that it is frequently a problem.

The pastor visits in the homes of his members and notices that they live more luxuriously than he and his family.  Their house is larger, built better, and is located in a classier neighborhood. They dress well, have a pool, and their cars are always the latest model.

The pastor and his wife notice these things; count on it. And as their children grow into the teen years, they also become aware that some in the church are wealthier than they.

Now, every family is different.  One would hope the pastor’s spouse and family are so intent on serving God in this community that material things are a distant second to them. You would hope they rejoice in the success some families enjoy, and let it go at that.

That’s not always the case. At times, the pastor and family come down with a severe case of “why not us, Lord?”  Also known in the medical books as “Why can’t we live the way they do?”

Here are a few thoughts on this issue.

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Let the preacher not draw too much attention to himself

“…that in all things He might have preeminence in everything” (Colossians 1:18).

Let not the messenger boy think this is all about him.

I had a suspicion confirmed the other evening.

Over the years, I have made a point of memorizing scripture.  At this moment, I can quote Psalms 1, 23, and 103, as well as Romans 8, and a number of shorter passages.  There is nothing boastful about that. I should have retained more of what I worked to memorize through the years (which included Psalm 139, half of Hebrews and most of I Peter), but because I did not work at keeping it, have lost it from memory.

Okay.  But here’s the thing.

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How to tell you have arrived as a big-shot preacher

What we are attempting to do here is walk a fine line between the fun of humor and exaggeration and the conviction of truth and righteousness.  They do intersect, although it’s difficult not to veer too much to one side or the other.  I’ll try not to drive like a drunk….

The Lord called you to preach the gospel and you answered. You went off to a Bible college or theological seminary of one kind or the other, and you got yourself some degrees which you now display prominently on your wall. You finally got past those tiny churches which many consider boot camp for the pastoral ministry and now you are uptown in a fine facility with your name boldly plastered on the sign out front as the (ahem) senior pastor. 

Have you “arrived” in the ministry?  Well sir, here’s some of the ways you can tell….

1) You have a Bible published with your very own commentary notes.  “The Official Jerry Bigshot Bible.”

It still has the basic 66 books of the Holy Scripture of course, but no one is buying it for that. They purchasing it for the wonderful, scintillating, incisive–and insert a lot of other dynamic adjectives here!–notes at the bottom of each page.

How in the world Martin Luther pulled off the Reformation without your assistance is anybody’s guess.

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Pastors of the larger churches and the other preachers in their community

“We then who are strong ought to bear with…the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.  For even Christ did not please Himself….” (Romans 15:1-3)

Outside observers are often surprised to learn that in many cities after churches grow to a certain size, they cut off fellowship with all the other congregations in their area.

Pastors of those mega-churches pull away from the ministers of the small congregations in the same city, as though they now live in different worlds.  They give the impression that they have been elevated to such a higher plane that the only ones who now speak their language lead churches of similar or greater size.

The truth, I sometimes suspect, is that they feel more comfortable with peers of similar status who also make the big bucks and do not feel guilty that their income is ten times that of the part-time preacher sitting next to them.

It’s utterly foolish, if you ask me. It’s prideful, egotistical, and completely counter-productive to the work of the Kingdom.

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The heart of a pastor

“Father, forgive them. For they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).

They were killing Jesus.  They would run up and spit on Him, then back off and laugh and call Him blasphemous names.  They would quote His words back to Him and dare Him to come down from the cross and prove Himself.

They were mean-spirited and ugly and hatefilled.

Jesus loved them.

As they killed Him, He prayed for them.

That, my friends, is a pastor.  A shepherd.  A lover of God’s people.

The heart of a pastor is a thing of wonder.

Something inside me wants to say preachers either have hearts of a pastor or they do not.  And if they do not, they should reject every invitation from search committees to become pastors because it’s a perfect set-up for disappointment on his part and disaster on theirs.  The preacher who can deliver a fine sermon but who is unavailable and ineffective during the week one-on-one should ask the Lord to show him other ways to use his gifts and calling.

The pastorate is not for him.

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Valentine’s Day: “Oh, are they having that again this year?”

My sister Carolyn sent me a list of lame excuses men use as to why they didn’t get their sweethearts anything for Valentine’s Day. “The Hallmark store was closed and I refuse to give you anything but the best.”

That sort of thing.

At the end, her list cited a quote from the old comic Red Skelton.

“All men have flaws; but married men find out them a lot sooner than others.”

You think that’s funny, but it’s not.  A lot of truth to it. And good truth, may I say.

This will be my first Valentine’s Day without Margaret, who left us for Heaven a few days ago. My first anything without her, as a matter of fact.  And I was thinking….

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A guide to mistreating worshipers

“….they treated the Lord’s offering with contempt” (I Samuel 2:17).

The first rule of worship leadership should probably be stated as Try Not To Get In Their Way.

When  people come to worship, if you cannot help them, at the very least try not to interfere with what they are doing.

The sons of Eli the High Priest were nothing but trouble. Hophni and Phinehas–who doesn’t love those names!– “were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord or for the priests’ share of the sacrifices from the people” (I Samuel 2:12-13).

God literally calls them SOBs.  “Sons of Belial” is the Hebrew expression translated as “wicked men” or “corrupt.”

Scripture has not a single positive statement about these miscreants.

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What my wife would tell pastors’ wives

This is being written two days before my wife’s funeral.

An hour ago, the pastor who married Margaret and me nearly 53 years ago sent a note of his love and prayers.  Bill Burkett is 90 now, living in Kentucky, and seemingly as sharp and gracious as ever.

I told him, “You would have been proud of Margaret.  She was a wonderful pastors’ wife.”

I know a lot of the Lord’s people who would attest to that.  Over a period of 42 years, we served seven churches in four different states. Every church situation differed, the needs varied, and her roles fluctuated with each.

Once, after we’d been married perhaps 15 years, at my suggestion Margaret met with a few wives of pastors in an informal setting. The stated object was for fellowship, but the result was usually mutual encouragement and more.

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