So You Think You Can Pastor?
I was challenged as I read this morning about John Piper’s personal call to full-time pastoral ministry. This is an extract from the letter his father Bill Piper, himself an itinerant evangelist, wrote to him when John felt it was time to take up the call. As a new pastor of a church plant, I’m only just beginning to realise how much I’d been shielded from the wider range of pastoral experiences until now. Therefore it’s a huge encouragement and a challenge to me reading it at this point in my ministry:
Now I want you to remember a few things about the pastorate. Being a pastor today involves more than merely teaching and preaching. You’ll be the comforter of the fatherless and the widow. You’ll counsel constantly with those whose homes and hearts are broken. You’ll have to handle divorce problems and a thousand marital situations. You’ll have to exhort and advise young people involved in sordid and illicit sex, with drugs and violence. You’ll have to visit the hospitals, the shut-ins, the elderly. A mountain of problems will be laid on your shoulders and at your doorstep.
And then there’s the heartache of ministering to a weak and carnal and worldly, apathetic group of professing Christians, very few of whom will be found trustworthy and dependable.
Then there a hundred administrative responsibilities as pastor. You’re the generator and sometimes the janitor. The church will look to you for guidance in building programs, church growth, youth activities, outreach, extra services, etc. You’ll be called upon to arbitrate all kinds of problems. At times you will feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. Many pastors have broken under the strain.
If the Lord has called you, these things will not deter nor dismay you. But I wanted you to know the whole picture. As in all of our Lord’s work there will be a thousand compensations. You’ll see that people trust Christ as Savior and Lord. You’ll see these grow in the knowledge of Christ and his Word. You’ll witness saints enabled by your preaching to face all manner of tests. You’ll see God at work in human lives, and there is no joy comparable to this. Just ask yourself, son, if you are prepared not only to preach and teach, but also to weep over men’s souls, to care for the sick and dying, and to bear the burdens carried today by the saints of God.
No matter what, I’ll back you all the way with my encouragement and prayers.
For the full article written by Justin Taylor on John Piper’s call to ministry 30 years ago, have a read here from The Gospel Coalition.