The Rearview Mirror Look at my Ministry

RearviewSmallNow that it’s been nearly four months since I retired from thirty-nine-plus years of ministry at Mayfair-Plymouth Church, I’m reflecting on my past ministry in a way I never could while living it. Looking back I realize my greatest roles were pastoring the people and proclaiming the Word (both spoken and written). There was also the role of leader that included being a visionary, manager, problem solver, and reconciler. The rearview look only confirms what I felt at the time, that the role as leader was the least enjoyable and most frustrating part of the calling as pastor. (I suspect that if you check earlier blog entries, written when I was still in the thick of things, you’ll find confirmation of this view.)

What’s the “take away” value for any pastor who’s reading this, agrees, but still has to do the leadership stuff? Here’s my thought on that: you have to be the pastoral leader (whatever that means in your church) but keep it on a short leash! It’s easy to let the tyranny of the urgent leadership or management issue distract from the pastoring and proclaiming. I know, it’s starting to sound as if this blog entry would be more appropriate in a pastoral leadership blog instead of a blog focused on the pastor’s heart, so let me put this blog entry back on course. Our heart as a pastor must be inclined most of all toward the Lord and what He speaks to our heart that needs to be spoken, from the heart, to the people. They want a word from the Lord in what we communicate! Our heart as a pastor must be inclined second of all to the needs of the people we’ve been called to shepherd. Do we really have a love for them? They want the love of the Lord to show through what we do in their lives.

Now in my retirement I find I can focus on communicating God’s Word and relating to His people, and I don’t have to do the leadership thing. Let me tell you, it’s great!

I’ll repeat something I believe I shared in an earlier blog: at the end of my ministry when people reminisced about our life together it was never about my bold leadership, great ideas, new program, or some effective use of management skills. Their warm reflections were about how I had come alongside them in a time of need or how I had spoken just the right word at the right time into their lives.

Do the leadership thing, just don’t make it the main thing. Keep the heart of ministry focused on a heart for God’s Word and for God’s people!

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