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Posts Tagged: pastor

The Pastor as a Father

Oct. 7, 2016By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

John Frye offers four pieces of advice:

  1. I tried never to shape their behavior by pulling out “your-dad’s-the-pastor-of-the-church” card. What salesman-dad pulls rank on his kids with his vocation? Or engineer, or school teacher, or baseball player? “Your dad is the pastor” is a dangerous and phony standard to use on children. Why? Because being a pastor does not equal being a good dad. Children can learn to hate everything about the faith under the pressure of living up to an artificial standard especially when their dad is an inadequate father.

  2. Julie and I risked erring on the side of grace rather than on strict, regulated family laws. We, of course, had standards and guidelines, but we would rather be known as gracious than as strict disciplinarians. Love and grace are risky realities in raising children, but in the long run they are worth it. This can be tough, though, because you don’t get a hand-book with each child. Every parent wants a “paint by numbers” guide to raising the perfect kid. And if they can’t get one from the Christian radio guru, they will make one up. I have seen children in the church, after being raised under and pressed down by strict “Christian” and moral laws, flee into apostasy when they got out on their own. Parents had an image that they wanted their children to match and never got to know the image of God that God had in mind in creating the child. So much parenting today is fear- driven, not grace- and love-driven.

  3. Julie and I believe that being faithful to each other is the most valuable legacy we can give our girls. Julie and I are very different persons (that probably goes without saying in view of the old saw “opposites attract”). We have had some turbulent times in our marriage and family life, but we both made a commitment before we had children that “divorce” would not be in our vocabulary. I recall an argument Julie and I had. I left the house angry and one of the girls came with me. I was driving and fuming inside. My little daughter looked at me and in a fearful voice asked, “Are you and Mom going to get a divorce?” My spirit broke. Our marital anger created insecurity in her heart. When Julie and I would "kiss and make up," as they say, our girls would swarm around our legs and hug us. A seminary mentor repeatedly said, "The best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother."

4. I did use our family’s life periodically in sermons (and,yes, I did err sometimes in not getting permission first. But I learned). Here’s what one daughter thought of that (as a pro):
“I loved being the PK at Bella Vista [Church]. I loved that I might hear my name or at least a story about me in your sermon illustrations. I guess that was my inner actress getting a little fame. It made me feel special and it made me feel like what we were going through, what we’d accomplished or what we’d said was important. I loved it!” I wanted people to identify me and Julie and the girls as a family like their families with fun stories and deep sorrows. Thankfully, the church overall accepted that.

HT: Scot McKnight

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Popular Posts from the Archive: Retiring from the Ministry?

Nov. 5, 2015By: Weymann Lee

“Retirement” is the dream of most Americans.  We work hard throughout life with the hope that someday we won’t have to work anymore.  We will be able to just relax and enjoy the remainder of our life without any worries or concerns.

retirement_roadHowever, for those of us who have been called by God to the ministry, the word “retirement” should not be in our vocabulary! We know that Scripture never teaches the concept of retirement. We believe that when God calls us to serve Him, it is not for a limited period of time; rather, it is a life long privilege and calling where we serve Him until He calls us home to glory. When God calls us to serve Him, He also puts in our heart a deep desire to continually serve Him – to be “abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor 15:58) and that desire is what keeps us in the ministry, even during difficult times when we feel like quitting.

From a financial standpoint, most of us in the vocational ministry often can’t afford to truly retire. The salary that many receive doesn’t allow us to put much away for future retirement.  We don’t have the kind of retirement or pension plans that are offered by secular employers.

So, what is a pastor to do when he reaches retirement age and feels it’s time for him to “retire” from the pastoral ministry?  How can a pastor continue to serve the Lord through his retirement years?  Is there a ministry that he can be involved with where he can continue to make an impact in Christ’s kingdom?

These were the kinds of questions that I struggled with last year as I was completing 35 years in the pastoral ministry.  My wife and I felt it was time for me to retire from the pastoral ministry and to “pass the baton” onto younger men who have been trained for the ministry. But yet I didn’t want to “sit on the sidelines” and idly watch others serve.

My heart’s desire was and is to continue to serve the Lord and make an impact in His kingdom throughout my “retirement” years. (Psalm 71:17-18). Little did we realize the Lord had already started preparing our hearts for our “retirement” ministry.


Over the past several years, we had learned that 75% of all Christian believers today live outside the U.S. in the “majority world”, where the majority of the world’s population resides – in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Many refer to this area as the “10/40 Window”.

As a result of the advancement of the gospel in these parts of the world, many churches are being established and are growing at an astounding rate! However there are an insufficient number of pastors who are theologically trained in God’s Word to shepherd the growing number of believers in these churches!

It is estimated that there are approximately 5 million pastors outside the U.S.  An overwhelming majority of them (85%) have very little to no solid theological training or have no access to it. This situation has been described as a “theological famine”.  

We were able to truly understand this great need when we heard the following statistics:

      * Ratio of theologically trained pastors to people in the U.S.:            1:230

      * Ratio of theologically trained pastors to people outside the U.S.:     1:450,000

When my wife and I first learned about this immense need, the Lord put in our hearts a deep desire to help with the training and encouragement of these national pastors. I wanted to share with them what the Lord has taught me through my years of training and experience in the ministry. 

While I was still in the pastoral ministry, I was able to participate in a number of short-term ministry trips to help equip these national pastors and church leaders in various countries around the world.  Through these trips the Lord truly opened our eyes to this great, pressing need.  We learned that the number one need and request from missionaries, churches and pastors outside the U.S. is for pastoral and leadership training.

Last year, as I was considering retiring from the pastoral ministry, it became very evident to my wife and me that the Lord was leading us to become involved in this ministry.  As we stepped out in faith in following His leading, the Lord sovereignly led us to serve with Training Leaders International.

We’re excited and humbled about our new ministry and to see how the Lord will use us through our retirement years to not only impact the lives of many national pastors and church leaders around the world, but also the churches that they lead!

THE ENCOURAGEMENT – From Pastor to Pastor

Let me encourage those of you who are currently in the pastoral ministry to consider being a part of a short-term ministry team (1-2 week trip) to help in the training of these national pastors in other countries around the world*. It is a great opportunity for you, as well as your church, to make an immense impact for Christ around the world.   

Let me encourage those of you who are veteran pastors, those who may be considering “retiring” from pastoral ministry, NOT to retire from the ministry. As Dr. John Piper exhorts us in his booklet “Rethinking Retirement”**: Finish life to the glory of Christ!

Utilize the remaining years that the Lord graciously gives you to continue to serve and to glorify Him.  Pass on what the Lord has taught you to national pastors and church leaders around the world who are eager to be equipped to teach the Word!

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2


*TLI offers a number of short-term ministry opportunities throughout the year that pastors can participate in. (See “Short-Term Opportunities” ) TLI is also seeking veteran and retired pastors and missionaries to be International Trainers either part-time or full-time. (See “Employment”.)

** Download a free pdf of “Rethinking Retirement: Finishing Life for the Glory of Christ” 


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A Distraction for Pastors?

Oct. 9, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Lifeway Research recently polled over 1000 pastors on the biggest distractions they face. The most significant distraction – dealing with critics.

slide3Here are the numbers:

•79% of pastors say critics distract them from their ministries. Nearly 40% strongly agree that they do.
•Though pastors of all church sizes felt this way, pastors of churches with over 250 in worship attendance were more likely to struggle with the critics.
•48% of pastors say conflict among staff and/or key lay leaders is a significant distraction.
•Pastors in the South are more likely to have conflict among staff and/or key lay leaders than pastors in other regions.

It is a fascinating find, because a distraction is classified as something that is not part of what you should be doing. For example, to say problem solving is a distraction if your job is to be a leader, would be to dismiss part of your job description.

Everyone who has ever lived has had to deal with conflict. Christians tend to flee it through denial or flight, but those responses tend to makes things worse. Conflict is an opportunity for ministry if done well. A distraction? Sometimes. Moments for ministry? Always.

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What Does it Mean to Have a Pastor’s Heart? (Part 3)

Mar. 4, 2015By: Evan Burns

13c52f7a2d2b5536c7a83a67f807fdb3In Mark’s gospel Jesus’ heart to shepherd the sheep was principally expressed in the proclamation of the gospel, the announcing of the kingdom, and the call for repentance and faith (1:15).  Jesus unquestionably revealed His heart in exorcising demons and healing the suffering out of compassion (1:41; 9:22); nevertheless, the main reason for such miracles was that they demonstrated His unique identity and bore witness to His exclusive authority (2:1-12).  The text never states that Jesus ministered to people for the select purpose of meeting physical needs, healing, or exorcism, though He certainly worked such miracles with compassion.  His heart chiefly resolved to preach (1:38).  Even the miracle of feeding the five thousand was an offshoot of his compassion, not the objective of his compassion.  “When He went ashore He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion of them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  And He began to teach them many things” (6:34).  

His stated resolutions in Mark disclose His heart for His sheep, of which all His under-shepherds ought to take note:  He came to preach (1:38).  He came to call sinners (2:17).  He came to give His life as a ransom for many (10:45).  Teaching was the center of His shepherding, and His unique identity was the center of His teaching.  And the cross was the illuminating center of His identity.  Jesus’ heart did not bleed with desire to serve any and every need.  The book What is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert has been very helpful in reflecting on this theme.  They make a strong case that ultimately Jesus’ heart was “the proclamation of the gospel through teaching, the corroboration of the gospel through signs and wonders, and the accomplishment of the gospel in death and resurrection” (57).

As His under-shepherds, we will never imitate Christ’s mission, but we must imitate His heart in bearing witness to what He has already done.  As His shepherds, we are not new incarnations of Him to people (contrary to trendy jargon from contemporary ministry philosophy); we are just the true Shepherd’s representative spokesmen, compassionately teaching the flock where to find Living Water, graciously proclaiming His good news, and affectionately imploring lost sheep to be reconciled to God (Jn 21:15-19; 2 Cor 5:20).  This is how the Chief Shepherd expresses His heart through His under-shepherds.  The Father’s heart desired to send the true Shepherd to a scattered flock so that by believing in His name the flock of God might find life (Jn 1:12).  The Chief Shepherd sent His under-shepherds with the same heart to bear witness to the One who is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6; 21:15-19).  Shepherding is truth-love work; truth without love is deadening hypocrisy, and love without truth is shallow sentimentality.  Competence and character are foundational for shepherding and leading as Jesus would.  Competence and character are best friends, and the work of shepherding malfunctions if one is substituted for the other.  

"Competence and character are best friends, and the work of shepherding malfunctions if one is substituted for the other." - Tweet this

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What Does it Mean to Have a Pastor’s Heart? (Part 2)

Mar. 3, 2015By: Evan Burns

Pastor-preaching-mediumUnderstanding the heart of the true Shepherd is necessary for knowing how to emulate His model to the flock under one’s care. It would be easy to describe what we ourselves think a pastor’s heart should be like based on our current or previous pastors, church-growth gurus, and our own experience and personality; however, seeing the heart of the true Pastor in the Bible and imitating Him is our authoritative model. 

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11).  Essentially, the heart of a shepherd is that of a bondservant.  Although, it can be misleading to argue that Jesus’ heart was one solely of service.  It is not a problem if we mean what Mark 10:45 meant by service, in that Jesus “came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many”.  It is true that Jesus’ heart of compassion for His people was often demonstrated in meeting physical needs, like feeding hungry people and healing demonized people.  However, it is misleading to contend that Jesus’ heart in ministry was primarily to serve the felt-needs of everyone—always available to counsel, accepting every party invitation, and giving ample consolation to every hurting person. 

"It is misleading to contend that Jesus’ heart in ministry was primarily to serve the felt-needs of everyone" - Tweet this

The over-active ministries of some pastors demonstrate their heart’s passion is to be always available to hear complaints, ready to counsel anyone at any time, willing to frequently hang out with the sheep, and to present enjoyable dynamic sermons that the sheep want to hear.  Such a busybody-heart can actually demonstrate that such an under-shepherd may have a Messiah-complex, which shows his heart is mainly driven by pride, believing he can “do it all”, and not by submission to the Chief Shepherd’s commands. 

This may sound heartless and unspiritual, but it is true: it simply was not Jesus’ heart passion to heal all the sick and meet all the demands of the needy, though He cared more for them than any other.  His heart’s desire was to fulfill what the Father sent Him to do: to save His people from damnation (Jn 3:17), that He would be lifted up on a cross so that believers could have eternal life (Jn 3:14-15).  The Father sent Him so that whoever feeds on Him would live forever (Jn 6:57-58).  Jesus’ chief passion as a Shepherd was eternal and spiritual in nature, though He certainly cared for the physical and emotional pangs of the masses. 


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