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The Pastor’s True Employment


Ministry Job Descriptions.

A recent advertisement in a Christian magazine took me back in memory to a story I was told in the 1980’s. The story was about a young minister, just out of college, who was applying for such a situation, and had made it right through the interview process, and had been asked by the interview panel if there were any questions he would like to ask about the position.

‘No’, said the newly qualified, would-be clergyman, ‘But I do have my own stipulations; for example, I need a salary of £25,000 a year, I only work 9-5, and I don’t do hospitals…’

His list of requirements was nearly as exacting as the list of requirements in the magazine advertisement. To apply for that position, as an assistant pastor in a busy city church, the aspiring applicant needs to:

* Provide effective leadership
* Strengthen the church through consistent teaching
* Develop spiritual gifts in the church
* Encourage ‘every member’ ministry
* Bring the congregation to a life of prayer and praise
* Promote children’s work
* Lead outreach in a missional and practical programme to benefit the local community.

What a list! The perfect manager to run the ‘right-on’ modern church!

Yet, in seeking their new minister, and in laying out their criteria for the ideal candidate, isn’t there something they have missed? Surely they might have mentioned GOSPEL MINISTRY? After all, the first and primary task of the pastor is TO PREPARE HIS PEOPLE FOR DEATH! Yes, I know that sounds strange, given the tendency in evangelical circles to want ‘your best life now’ – but it is true. Every single person that minister encounters in his church will one day die, and will go to stand before God, in judgement, and will then spend eternity, either in heaven or in hell. The book of Hebrews warns us:

…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment. Hebrews 9:27, ESV

The pastor’s main task is to minister in the light of that awesome fact. In the words of Richard Baxter, author of ‘The Reformed Pastor’,

“I preached … as a dying man to dying men.”

Wouldn’t it be an awful indictment upon our ministries, if we were like the man who had his job conditions just right for his family and social life, and put into second place the need to warn men to flee from the wrath to come, or to have such a well qualified and accepted pastor, that people never heard the good news that Christ died on the cross, so that sinners could be forgiven, and brought into God’s kingdom for all of eternity.

By the way, what of the applicant who wanted good pay good hours and good conditions? Needless to say, he didn’t get the job!

From → Editorial

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