Monday, 26 November 2012 00:00

Edifying of the body of Christ

Written by George Fisher

After reading many posts from The Shepherd’s Connection website, and hearing of so many discouraged pastors, I believe the Lord wants me to share from my heart why so many God-called pastors get so discouraged, and many even choose to leave the pastoring ministry.

I am 72-years-old and have been pastoring for the last 20 years. When I gave my life to Jesus at age 36, a radical change began to take place in my heart that is still going on today, as I expect it will until I see Him face to face. God began putting my life in order, after His order, because that is what He does.

For 16 years, I was under the leadership of a great pastor in a large church. He was not a great pastor because he was serving as the pastor of a large church, but because he was living out his God-given instructions for every God-called pastor.  It is clear that Paul summarized the pastor’s role in Ephesians 4:11-12, “And he gave some, apostles, and some, prophets, and some, evangelists, and some, pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. (KJV emphasis mine)

My first pastorate was a church in a small community with a membership of about 50, of which about 14-16 regularly attended (of course, it was not always the same 14-16 who attended). While this may be typical, it is certainly not normal for the saints of God. I started out to build up that small church and it was one of the most frustrating endeavors I have ever undertaken. Everyone was excited in the "honeymoon" stage, but it was not long before I realized that I could not build the church because that was not what I have been called to do, at least according to Matthew 16:18; only Jesus could do that! 

My job was described clearly in Ephesians 4:11-12, and if I would do that through preaching the Word, God would do His part: building up His body. As I later learned and am still learning, I was to be an instrument in the hands of Jesus and the "gates of hell will not prevail against it." As His instrument (pastor and teacher), I was to be used as a tool in His hands to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, setting the pace as Jesus did, "as the Father has sent me, so send I you."  (John 20:21) If I manage to stay within my job description and let God do his part, there is no need for the stress I created for myself.

One of the most frustrating things for a pastor is trying to do a job that he is not called to do. A pastor will burn out, sooner or later, if he focuses on trying to please the people. Even Christ could not do that.  He knew people change, but God does not!  A pastor’s focus is on pleasing the Father. What pleases the Father? Living out our calling, "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" KJV. (Emphasis mine)

By the way, as soon as I started practicing my calling the way I was supposed to at that first church, things began to clear up because the people soon learned that I was to work with them, leading them, working alongside them, not doing the work for them. 

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, " Therefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

My frustrations have not ceased, but all the while my faith has increased

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