Pastorals (Patience)

A few weeks ago I was able to spend some time with one of the High school students from the first church that I ministered at (PMC Church).  We sat down at In-N-Out in sunny Los Angeles and talked about the exciting things that God is doing in her life, what He’s been teaching the both of us and what her family has been up to.  After lunch I began thinking about who I was 8 years ago when I first became a pastor and some of the things that I wish I had been able to understand about the ministry.

A lot has changed  in 8 years: I live 1,000 miles further north, I have 2 kids, and I finished my M. Div.  I hope that I’ve learned a few things along the way and I know that I’ve got a lot more to learn as I continue to be a shepherd.  However, looking back is an excellent way to gauge growth, and to remind oneself of lessons that were hard to learn yet somehow easy to forget.  In light of this, I’ve decided to start a series called “Pastorals” in order to help me remember and to process some of the things that I’ve learned.  I am writing primarily for my own edification, but I do hope that these letters will give you some insight into a pastors heart and some of the things that the Lord has shown me along the way.

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One of the greatest lessons that I have learned as a pastor is how important patience is when you’re in the ministry.  The following letter is written to a young pastor on the subject of patience.

 

 

 

 

Dear Pastor,

Graduating from Bible College and Seminary is a tremendous accomplishment.  All of the years of study, tests, papers, etc. have finally paid off and you have now been called to the ministry.  Your teachers have poured vast amounts of knowledge and spiritual insight into your soul and for that you should be eternally grateful.  All of your learning has prepared you to rightly handle the word (2 Timothy 2:15) and yet one of the difficulties that you will encounter in the early days of ministry is the frustration of shepherding a flock that is not necessarily ready to change and this requires patience.

Young pastors can often times become frustrated by two things in the church.  1) They become frustrated with the organization of the church and the snails pace that the church often takes to make decisions.  2) They become frustrated at the lack of sanctification or lack of passion that they see in the lives of the flock and often times of the leaders around them.  The antidote to both of these sources of frustration is patience.

You must realize that patience is not the same thing as compromise.  A good shepherd accurately assesses the flock and has a good understanding of where they are today, as well as where he wants to see them tomorrow.  Patience is the virtue that allows you to look forward to what the future holds for your church, while accepting the reality of where your church is today and the strength to move them forward to a better tomorrow.  Isaiah 40:11 says, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”  Our good shepherd knows how to take care of all his sheep including the lambs whom he holds in his arms, and those who are with young whom he leads.  You too must know how to lead your flock with patience.  You cannot run ahead of them to the place you want them to go and expect them to keep up with you, rather you must lead them by keeping in front, yet always looking back to assess their needs and care for them in their weaknesses (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

Of course, you obviously have somewhere that you are trying to take this flock so you must be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6) as you lead them, yet patient and gentle as you tend the flock exercising oversight among them (1 Peter 5:2).

What I am asking of you is not easy, yet it is certainly the Good Shepherds way of leading his people (Psalm 23:2).  Remember that Jesus always walks with us, exercising limitless patience as He shapes us into His image, so we too must exercise patience as we tend His flock.

‘Til Sin is Bitter Christ Will not be Sweet,

 

Drew Buell

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March 23 2009 07:00 am | Pastorals

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