God moves to slow for us, particularly for us pastors. With great expectations, we enter the pastorate prepared to usher in a great movement of the Holy Spirit. However, it doesn’t take long for zeal of youthful optimism to shatter. Weeks turn into months, and months into years. After awhile, a comfortable pastoral routine settles, which involves some sort of weekly cocktail of prayer, study, visiting, and meetings. As we labor to serve the Lord’s church, God seems to lag behind. The congregation drags its heels, their hearts dull, and their soul’s unengaged in corporate worship. Conflict erupts and drama ensues, as our flock bickers, complains, and grumbles. As our church stagnates, we begin to get the itch to look elsewhere for something that will work. After all, God seems uninterested in bringing life, why not look for some other means of creating it? So our eye begins to wander, and we tread down one google search after another, looking to what works for other churches. What’s the “it” thing right now? What’s the secret sauce for fixing my church? What’s the right combination of buttons that will produce spiritual fruit? In our frustration with God, many pastors grow tired of waiting on the Lord, and instead seek to microwave their congregation like an frozen dinner. In our demand for expediency, we turn to novelty and let “whatever works” chart our course in our pastoral leadership.
Pastors, we must repent of such tendencies, and we must turn from our arrogant ways. We must not exchange the means of grace that God has given for the church’s sanctification with a cheap, manufactured, and instant solution. Gimmicks don’t make disciples.
Our lack of patience indicates a lack of faith in God. Christ will build his church. After all, they are his people not yours. He has purchased them with his own blood, and he will finish the good work that he has started within their hearts. We must care for the flock of God through the means of word and prayer. It is through the slow, consistent ministry of the word that God will bring renewal to your people. Bring the word of God to bear in the pulpit, but also in your personal conversations. Proclaim the word of God, and embody the word of God with your life. Guard your life and your teaching. Disciple making is slow and arduous. You can’t nuke your people into holiness like a bag of popcorn. We must recover the pastoral ministry as a word driven ministry in every aspect. As we pray for our flock and teach our flock, the Spirit slowly progresses his sanctifying work in our churches.
Sure, a Word-driven strategy may not get you on the list of fastest growing churches, but Jesus commends such faithful shepherds who give their flocks the good food of the Scriptures, not the frivolous candy of the fad of the week.
We must trust God when he tells us that his Word will not return void, and we must never cease waiting on the Lord. The long-suffering pastor is the norm, and it is through the joy of many years of toil that we often see the fruit of our labors. The cadence of time makes visible God’s invisible work.
I think pastors particularly feel this frustration on Mondays. Discouragement settles in after the highs and lows of Sunday. No matter how you may feel, trust that faithful shepherding brings glory to God. The results of our ministry can’t be measured by instant tests or the amount of positive responses after your sermon. Trust in the love of God for his people and the efficacy of his Word to bring about life to the valley of dry bones you preach to every Sunday morning. You never know, God just may bring that valley dry bones to life just when you least expect it.