“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
Certainly one of the crying needs of the church is the reinvigoration of the model of the pastor-scholar. While scholars are seldom pastoral in their orientation and aims, pastors are seldom theological, much less scholarly, in their thinking and practice. As a result, the church suffers from an overabundance of superficiality and a dearth of substance. What is needed for the long-term health and vibrancy of the church are pastors with scholarly heads and shepherding hearts.
This Thanksgiving I’m taking stock of everything for which I am thankful, and topping the list is the Body of Christ at Calvary Memorial Church, Oak Park, where I have the privilege of serving as Pastor.
My own gratitude for the community at Calvary was especially stirred-up after reading some choice sections of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. May they have a similar effect on your own heart this Thanksgiving.
Because God already has laid the only foundation of our community, because God has united us in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that life together with other Christians, not as those who make demands, but as those who thankfully receive. We thank God for what God has done for us. We thank God for giving us other Christians who live by God’s call, forgiveness, and promise. We do not complain about what God does not give us; rather we are thankful for what God does give us daily. And is not what has been given us enough: other believers who will go on living with us through sin and need under the blessing of God’s grace?
Thankfulness works in the Christian community as it usually does in the Christian life. Only those who give thanks for little things receive the great things as well. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts prepared for us because we do not give thanks for daily gifts.
If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian community in which we have been placed, even when there are no great experiences, no noticeable riches, but much weakness, difficulty, and little faith – and if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so miserable and so insignificant and does not at all live up to our expectations – then we hinder God from letting our community grow according to the measure and riches that are there for us all in Jesus Christ.
And a final word that really struck a cord with me, a rather direct word to pastors:
Pastors should not complain about their congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. Congregations have not been entrusted to them in order that they should become accusers of their congregations before God and their fellow human beings. When pastors lose faith in a Christian community in which they have been placed and begin to make accusations against it, they had better examine themselves whether the underlying problem is not their own idealized image, which should be shattered by God. And if they find that to be true, let them thank God for leading them into this predicament. But if they find that it is not true, let them nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of those whom God has gathered together. Instead, let them accuse themselves of their unbelief, let them ask for an understanding of their own failure and their particular sin, and pray that they may not wrong other Christians. Let such pastors, recognizing their own guilt, make intercession for those charged to their care. Let them do what they have been instructed to do and thank God.
Humbled, prayerful, and grateful this Thanksgiving for the Body of Christ at Calvary!
Why should a pastor blog? I’m a pastor, and for me this is a very serious question. It’s a serious question for a simple reason: I’m accountable for how I spend my time. I’m accountable to my elders and congregation; I’m accountable to my wife and children; and I’m ultimately accountable to Jesus Christ, to whom I shall one day give an account for not only “every careless word” (Matt. 13:36), but every wasted minute.
So it’s a serious question. But it’s also a complicated one, complicated because I have a limited amount of time and yet a seemingly unlimited number of demands on my time! (We all feel that way, don’t we?). Thus it’s a constant challenge to decide what to prioritize. And does blogging really rise to the top of the priority list?
As I reflected on this, I was grateful to read about the benefits of blogging from Michael Hyatt, President and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. In his post, “What I Have Learned in Four Years of Blogging,” he offered the following lessons (in brief):
- Blogging helps me clarify my own thinking.
- Blogging has given me first-hand experience with emerging technologies.
- Blogging has provided me with a mechanism for instant feedback.
- Blogging has given others a “peek behind the curtain.”
- Blogging has given me a way to engage my employees.
- Blogging has helped me bypass traditional media when necessary.
- Blogging has made our company more visible.
Even more to the point are the comments of Abraham Piper, Web Content Editor at Desiring God, in his post, “6 Reasons Pastors Should Blog” (again, in brief):
- To write.
- To teach.
- To recommend.
- To interact.
- To develop an eye for what is meaningful.
- To be known.
Between these two lists, there’s plenty of helpful stuff to chew on. But I must say, I don’t find either list to provide an entirely compelling rationale for blogging for a pastor, for spending several hours a week (or more!) posting comments and managing a blog site. These benefits notwithstanding, doesn’t a pastor simply have to many other kingdom-expanding, time-consuming, people-oriented, soul-elevating activities to be about?
Reflecting on this question recently, a phrase of Scripture suddenly flashed into my mind: “as long as it is called ‘today’.” The phrase comes from Hebrews 3:
“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” (Heb. 3:12-14).
And at once it dawned on me: here in these verses I think we have a compelling rationale for a pastor to blog. Since the remarkable technology of blogging allows a pastor to fulfill this biblical imperative in a unique and even historically unprecedented way: Through regular blog posts, I can encourage others, as often as possible, wherever they are, whoever they are, to fight unbelief and hold fast to Jesus Christ till the end of their days and the end of days, as long as it is called ‘today.’ And that’s, I believe, a compelling rationale for a pastor to blog!