How to pastor emphatically

“The disciples went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).

“Nobody ever enjoyed the presidency as I did…. While president I have been president emphatically.”  –Theodore Roosevelt, quoted by David McCullough in “The American Spirit”

The Lord does not want your spare time and loose change.”  –Pastor Brent Thompson, Heflin (AL) Baptist Church.

The Lord wants His people to live life emphatically.  “Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,”says Ecclesiastes 9:10.

We are to seize the day, live each moment, and to delight ourselves in Him.

Listen to Paul as he seeks to motivate and energize young Pastor Timothy:

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also…

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth….

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom, preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction….

But you be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  (all quotations from 2 Timothy)

Timothy was pastoring God’s people at Ephesus (I Timothy 1:3).  So, his father in the ministry, the esteemed Apostle Paul, wanted him to “pastor those people emphatically.”

Emphatic.  Related to emphasis.  From the Latin meaning to exhibit or display.

The Lord displays His children to the world.  “That we should show forth the praises of Him who has called us into His marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).  He does not hide His offspring, and is not pleased when we run and hide or bury what the resources He places in our hands (see Matthew 25:25).

The servant of God who would be emphatic in his ministry will not be tentative, and not be hesitant, fearful or half-hearted.  He will give it his all and be able to say “This one thing I do” (Philippians 3:13), whether he is preaching a sermon or calling on shut-ins at the nursing manor or sitting with small children in a classroom.  He is fully present and completely engaged in the moment.

Historian David McCullough says of Teddy Roosevelt, “He embraced the power of the presidency without hesitation, with open delight, and used it effectively and imaginatively.  He said he liked power for what he could do with it.”

There is not a bad outline for an emphatic pastorate…

  1. Embrace the pastorate. The God of the universe has called you into His service and sent you to His people.  Think of that.  Now, do not cower or crawl, but stand on your feet and seize the opportunity.  Do not love the world, fear the congregation, dread the deacons, or give too much credit to the devil.  Fear God alone.  Read Matthew 10:16-42 again and again.
  2. Enjoy the ministry.  What a privilege the Lord has given you and me.  “Fulfill your ministry” is what Paul told Tim.  Get on with it; just do it.  Be assertive.  Take life by the horns, some might say.
  3. Use every opportunity it provides you.  “Spend those coins.” Speak out.  Redeem the time.  You’re not going to be here forever, not going to pastor that church endlessly.  So, get on with it.
  4. Lead imaginatively. Don’t be so boring in your sermons, so dull in your leadership, so locked into the routine. You’re doing the greatest work in the world.  Work on making your sermons the high point of your week and the most exciting moments in the life of the congregation.  And pray with imagination.  If money were no object, what would God have you do there?  If the personnel were available and you were limited only by your own faith, what would you be doing?

The Lord who saved you and called you is not limited.  See Psalm 115:3.

“Why did you fear?” asked the Lord to the quivering disciples on Galilee.  “Where is your faith?”  (Mark 4:40)

David McCullough says, “It’s often remarked that the great presidents have been those who served in times of great crisis.  And that might be taken as the rule were it not for the stunning exception of Theodore Roosevelt, who was president when there was no crisis, when in fact, he could easily have coasted in the job, as some had done before him.  But he was Theodore Roosevelt and that’s the point.”

Pastor, be the servant of the living God.  And that’s the point.  Say with Amos, “The lion has roared, you will fear. The living God has called, you will prophesy.”  That’s Amos 3:8 and it’s a keeper.

I can imagine the Lord asking some of us at Judgement, “Now, why did you hesitate? Where is your faith?”

–“Why did you vacillate? Where is your faith?”

–“Why did you run from those people?  Where is your faith?”

–“Why did you refuse to preach what I told you? Where is your faith?”

–“Why did you resign and go home and sulk? Where is your faith?”

Stand up, child of God.  Be strong. Let your heart take courage. Do not be afraid of those who can only kill the body, but afterwards have no authority over you.  Fear the One who is still in control after you take your last breath here.  (Psalm 27:14 and Matthew 10:28).

Let it be said of you after you have moved on to another pastorate, another city, or another world, that “He lived life emphatically.”  “He served God with his whole heart and soul and mind.”

“Nothing half-way about that preacher.”

A double-minded man, says James 1:6-8, is unstable in all his ways. He should not expect to get anything from God.

I will love the Lord my God with all my heart and soul and mind.  I will love my family the same way.  And I will love serving Him just as emphatically.

God, forgive me for my half-heartedness.  You hate lukewarmness.  Help me to do so too.

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