Wednesday, January 12

Is The Pastoral Grass Greener Elsewhere?

In the closing chapter of On Being A Pastor, Derek Prime and Alistair Begg surface the oft recurring tendency of weary ministers to imagine that they will find a better ministry elsewhere. The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence. Nonetheless, we who shepherd churches may find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and wishing to escape. The authors I just mentioned direct us to correspondence between Isaac Watts (the hymn writer) and a young man who assisted an older minister in a new chapel in Southampton [England]. After about 18 months, being unhappy there, he contemplated moving. Watts replied:
Your last is now before me with all the long details of discouragements. . . . I own many of them to be just . . . if we look merely to appearances. But I have a few things to offer which will in some measure, I hope, reconcile your thoughts to a long continuance among them. 

1) Consider how great things God has done . . . in Southampton by your means. . . . 
2) There are some person in whom God has begun a good work . . . by your means. Oh, do not think of forsaking them! 
3) There is scarce any people . . . who love their minister and honour and esteem him more than yours do you. . . .
4) Where is the man who is better qualified for carrying on God's work in the town than your are? 
5) If you leave, whither will you go? The case is the same in many places as it is with your and much worse.
6) Consider whether this be not a temptation thrown in your way to discourage you in your work. 
7) Let us remember that we are not engaged in a work that depends all upon reasonings, and prospects and possibilities, and present appearances, but upon the hand and Spirit of God. If He will work, who shall hinder? . . . Meditate on these things. Turn your thoughts to the objects which are more joyful, and the occasions you have for thankfulness. Praise and thanksgiving are springs to the soul and give it new activity.
OK, So Not a Pastor? 
Any Christian can apply this, don't you think? Be where you are. "Occupy till I come" said our Lord (Luke 19:13 KJV). Let us commit ourselves to not only being there, but doing so with all of our hearts. For it is this attitude of service which brings delight to us and to heaven. It is THIS attitude that glorifies God as worthy to be served!

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