A Joyful Heart for Living and for Pastoring

joypicI recall sitting at a coffee counter at a restaurant sipping my black brew, pondering whatever concerning the ministry. The server on the other side of the counter asked me, “Why are you so sad?” I don’t recall my answer, just her question. I also remember thinking that I wasn’t being much of a testimony for Christ, for she knew I was a pastor. I was convicted, which didn’t help my attitude any!

Joy is the second of nine items on the apostle Paul’s list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians. It obviously didn’t make my list that day. Sometimes we Christians (including we pastors) can look as if we use prune juice in the cup of Communion!

I know, there are many joy-sapping aspects to pastoral ministry. Some people in our congregations, it seems, have the spiritual gift of taking the joy out of everything. But this doesn’t change the fact that Christians are to be exhibitors of joy in the Lord, and we pastors should be modeling this for them.

I can think of three good reasons why we pastors should be intentional about being joyful. First, it’s commanded!Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) Second, it’s good for us. A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.(Proverbs 17:22) A joyful attitude certainly is a major contributor to longevity in pastoral ministry. Third, people love to be around a pastor, work with a pastor, and follow a pastor who is a joyful person. “Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.” (Proverbs 15:30) If we pastors are the proclaimers of the Good News, then our face and attitude should frequently show it.

I find it interesting that the nine qualities Paul lists that Christians ought to exhibit are called “the fruit of the Spirit.” I take this to mean that they should be a natural result of our life in the Spirit. On the other hand, the fact that Paul found it necessary to list them in his letter to the Galatian Christians suggests that they, and we too, need to be intentional about exhibiting them, including the second one in the list, joy.

The Lord loves us, has called us to this amazing calling of being a pastor (an undershepherd for Him), and is with us and empowers us for the task. If we believe this then joy should be part of our experience. I have often needed the reminder to express my joy in the Lord; I thought you might need the reminder too!

“You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6)

A Pastor’s Heart: Comforting or Challenging?

StGregoryIt goes without saying that the pastor’s heart touches the hearts of the parishioners. What kind of a heart for the people should we have? How should our heart impact their hearts? Should the pastor’s heart be a comforting heart or a challenging heart? The following link addresses the issue in a short article by Daniel McLain Hixon. He shares some insights from The Book of Pastoral Rule by St. Gregory the Great.

I found the article by following a link from The Galli Report, a weekly newsletter from Mark Galli, editor at Christianity Today. He, in turn, provides the link from the weekly newsletter Ministry Matters which reprinted the article from Daniel McLain Hixon’s blog, Gloria Deo . Whew! I wanted to give credit to everyone involved.

This link is from the Ministry Matters web site. “Being ‘Pastoral’” is the title of the article.