Pastoral Survival Guide: by Rowland Croucher.
The Characteristics of Pastors who make the Distance.
After listening to hundreds of their stories, I believe that there are the ten characteristics of pastors – women and men – who ‘make the distance’.
- In past posts we have covered Jesus our Model, Spiritual Formation, and Images of Ministry (March 5 2015).
- Spiritual Disciplines ( March 12 2015)
- Last week we covered Saints and Pharisees (March 19 2015)
Today we will look at The Call to Ministry.
THE CALL TO MINISTRY
Here is some classical Christian wisdom on the subject of vocation:
‘Your motives are mixed. So are mine, for I shall not know this side of death why I became a preacher; and I have no right to assume that all that moved me in the choice was of angel brightness. Sometimes we see how incredibly ravelled are even our best desires.’
(George Buttrick, Sermons Preached in a University Church, Abingdon, 1959, p. 109).
# Traditionally, an ‘inner’ call was dominant when one entered monastic life; but the call to the presbyterate/pastorate needed an ‘inner’ call confirmed by the church. God always calls people to leadership in the community of Jesus Christ through the community. Calvin taught that there is a ‘two-fold’ call to pastoral ministry: God calls, but the church must also call. Wesley distinguished between an ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ call.
Eugine Peterson, the author of 20 books (all still in print), including The Message: The New Testament in Contemporary Language and a complete translation of the Bible by NavPress, says this of being a pastor:
“I’ve loved being a pastor, almost every minute of it. It’s a difficult life because it’s a demanding life. But the rewards are enormous — the rewards of being on the front line of seeing the gospel worked out in people’s lives.
I remain convinced that if you are called to it, being a pastor is the best life there is. But any life can be the best life if you’re called to it”.
# The call to ‘ministry’ is a subset of the call to be a child of the living God. The New Testament talks about the ‘high calling of God in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:14); it is a ‘holy calling’ (2 Timothy 1:9); and a ‘heavenly calling’ (Hebrews 3:1).
# Sometimes people wear rose-coloured spectacles when considering a call to pastoral ministry / full-time evangelism / cross-cultural missionary work. Those people are considered fortunate, because they have lots of time to sit around and meditate, without being bothered by the hassles of ordinary living. A mother-of-nine told the evangelist Gypsy Smith that she believed God was calling her to be an evangelist like him. ‘Isn’t that wonderful!’ he responded. ‘God has not only called you; he’s already provided you with a congregation!’ Jesus said to Peter: ‘Follow me (leave your home)’. To the Gadarene demoniac (Luke 8:26-39): ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’
# An old church paradigm suggests six ‘vocation indicators’ –
- Faith (words and actions that indicate a deep-down commitment to Christ and his Church);
- Idealism (often expressed through initiatives which promote peace, justice, and strive for a better world);
- A Search for Greater Meaning (eg. an authentic questioning of current lifestyle);
- A ‘People Person’ (either extroverted, or a quieter ‘one-to-one’ personality);
- Leadership (ability to draw others to oneself, make decisions and take initiatives);
- Strength of Character (integrity and a sense of responsibility for one’s own actions and decisions).
# God may have to call you more than once before he gets your attention. God had to call Samuel three times before he got the message.
# Sometimes a ‘call’ will come when we are really discouraged in our work; sometimes when we are successful. Christian wisdom says that usually a ‘restlessness’ will precede a call to another ministry, but escaping, running away from a tough job to enter pastoral ministry does not augur well for a ministry-future.
(Have you heard of the black cotton-picker in the American South who was very tired one scorching day. He looked up to the heavens and said ‘O Lord, de sun am so hot, de work am so hard, de cotton am so grassy dat I believe you callin’ me to be a preacher!’).
by Rowland Croucher.
Rowland Croucher (born 1937) is an Australian pastor, counsellor and author.
Brought up in the Open Brethren in Sydney, following a five-year career as a high-school teacher, Croucher began training in 1964 for the Baptist ministry in New South Wales. He worked for the InterVarsity Fellowship (1968-1970), now the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (AFES); then pastored churches in Australia: Narwee and Central Baptist Church – both in Sydney – and Blackburn Baptist Church in Melbourne, which became a “megachurch” in the late 1970s, with seven pastors, a salaried staff of 25 and 1,000 attending; plus several interim ministries. He was then, briefly, pastor at First Baptist Church, Vancouver, Canada. From 1983 to 1991 he worked for World Vision Australia.
Since 1991, Croucher has been founding director of John Mark Ministries, serving pastors, ex-pastors, church leaders and their spouses throughout Australia and elsewhere. The John Mark Ministries website, with 20,000 articles, claims to be the most accessed non-denominational religious website in Australia.
Croucher has authored 12 books, including Still Waters Deep Waters (with 35,000 copies in print) and has been a regular participant on Australian radio and TV programs. (Wikipedia)