The Nobility of the Pastor’s Call
Facilitating many of the problems facing today’s evangelical churches is a perceptible decline in the value assessed to preaching and to the pastor’s role. Churches lean toward emotive music, the theology of which is often of uncertain value; toward counseling for a multitude of neuroses and syndromes; and toward a host of other substitutions for perceptive teaching of the biblical revelation occupying the minds of parishioners. At the same time, few young people are making commitments to lifetime vocational Christian ministry. For those who do make such commitments, tough situations arise in the churches, and false accusations against pastors end up being fought and decided in civil court, all of which is sufficient to discourage many young people, who opt instead for a brief foray into missions to satisfy their “God-urge” and the rejoining of the secular work force to support the family more adequately.
Seminaries continue to shorten curriculae; each year fewer students graduate with a significant grasp of biblical languages; and the prospects of a pastor who has a sufficient understanding of theology, a mastery of Old and New Testament content, and training in homiletics to enable him actually to preach through 1 Corinthians or Romans, to say nothing of Daniel or Ezekiel, is roughly the same as driving a race car in the Indianapolis 500. Churches have fewer high school kids, and college students are absent altogether from hundreds of our churches. No wonder so few preachers and future pastors can be counted. But after all, is preaching itself critically important?
Ephesians 4:11-12 suggests a distinct picture from that which I have described. God Himself gave to the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, as well as pastors and teachers. His purpose is to equip the church to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13). This method is God’s way of preparing His church to carry out His work until He returns. The shepherd’s assignment of teaching the Word of God line upon line, precept upon precept (Isaiah 28:9-10) remains strategically important to the work of God. The high and holy calling of God to the pastoral ministry must be represented in our era.
A man who is a genuine shepherd for his sheep, like David, will face his lions and bears. But if he is more than just a remunerated rhetorician or a second-level administrator, then he is the one figure who tends to be there at every critical moment of life. When the couple is to be married, he provides pre-marital direction and manages the wedding; he is there when the babies are born; he provides pastoral counsel for any need the family encounters; he prays for the visit of an angel of God at the hospital; and when it is time for the saint to travel home to Heaven, the pastor is also there to bring the message of coronation and to comfort the family. Along the way he lays the guide-path for the family through biblical, theological expositions of God’s Word.
“Well, I do not want to be a preacher,” stammers the youth. “They usually don’t make that much money, churches run them off like they were encyclopedia salesmen, and they now suffer subjection to litigation and carry little of the respect with which they once were accorded in the community.” All of the above harbors a measure of truth. But unless God calls you to be a pastor, you do not want the assignment for sure. You are not going to be a sovereign. You will not labor for earthly recognition, though some of that may come. Your labor is in behalf of the Chief Shepherd, who will appear later (1 Peter 5:4).
With the tragic record of the clergy in recent years, no wonder the luster is gone. Marital failures, sins of the flesh, greed, slander, etc. Many seem to live life just like everyone else. Christ warned about this crisis in the last day.
While no one should decide to be a minister, every Christian young man needs to seek God’s face. Do you want me to be a pastor, dear God? That is the only critical question. God gave the church pastors and teachers. If you are one whom God anointed and called, the only peace that will come is in knowing and doing the will of God. And if God so favors you, there is no more noble way to spend a life. For all his affliction and sorrow, Jeremiah lives on and speaks to us today as God’s spokesman, 700 years after his death.