“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
– 1 Timothy 4:15
It seems that Paul refuses to let Timothy compartmentalize his faith. Life and doctrine are joined at the hip in pastoral leadership. In the same way that good theology must inform our teaching, there are foundational theological issues that need to inform our lives as ministers.
When a candidate for ordination steps forward, I wonder if we should be asking questions like:
- “What will your life in ministry actually look like?”
- “How will you create a framework for ministry life that is grounded in the biblical and theological truths of WHO and WHAT you really are?”
These are probably good questions for any ministry leader, no matter what stage they’re at.
Like many who deeply desire to serve God in a vocational ministry role, I had forgotten that God was more interested in WHO I was than in WHAT I did for Him. The result was a major crash and burn that did violence to relationships that I cherished, the church I served, and to my own soul. The framework on which I hung my ministry life was far from what I now see shining through the Scriptures. My work as a part of PIR Ministries now brings me into contact, every day, with pastors who also seem to lack this vital framework - busy, overwhelmed and living on adrenaline, they attempt to exceed the limits of what their actual life in Christ can sustain.
“Your wife and your body don't lie" - A pastor who suffered severe burnout.
“....how can we think differently about the work itself and what we can physically manage? It is not simply about having that little plastic gizmo on our desks -- the 'NO' button -- that says 'No!' in three different ways when we push it. Or repeating to ourselves, 'I’m not on that committed,' when we try to control too much." (Alban Institute)
We need to think deeply and differently about our work and our role.
May I invite you to consider with me a framework for ministry that will ground us in a healthy way of life? One that may provide for the flourishing of our own souls and, in turn, the souls of those we shepherd? This framework consists of understanding the following:
- You are Human – Do I live conscious of being a created being – a HUMAN being; “crowned with glory and honor” but limited, broken, and redeemed every day? If we will let it, the present sense of our humanity roots us in this truth - there is a God, and I am not Him! This simple realization can transform us from human doings – with an unrealistic belief in our unlimited capacity – into people who live and work in a very human way. We will daily bump up against the sinful defaults of our hearts, our inability to fix things and people and the limits of our own bodies. And that will be OK.
“I am a real person who occupies an office.” - David Rohrer
- You are a Disciple – Prior to any call to serve there is the call to follow. Sometimes we minister types can forget that the Gospel we preach is the Gospel for US as well. A recent survey found that 70% of pastors only spent time studying the Word when they are preparing their sermons. If the daily, intentional personal relationship with Jesus is where we are leading people. We probably should get there first! Jesus has always been after our heart, not our performance.
- You are a Pastor/Minister/Shepherd – This vocational piece is what most pastors and ministers focus on exclusively once we experience a “call” to ministry. But ministry is more than the sermons we preach, the service we give, or the leading we do. We are called to give voice to God’s work in our own life -the whole of it. The Apostle Paul admonished the Philippians to follow not only his words but the things they had seen in him. Vocation is the voice of my life – human, disciple, servant.
“As pastors, we must be in God for the world, not in the world for God.”
Do you see how we often flip these - maybe even ignore one or two? It is vital to see how they build on one another and need to be in order. I like to think of this as the Ordo pastorium - the order of being a minister – that forms a framework for a grounded and healthier ministry life.
For more information on pastoral renewal and restoration, please visit our website at www.pirministries.org, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
God’s servants need hope! Roy’s personal experience has shaped him in unique ways to come alongside the many ministers and their families who are “exited,” have fallen or are just plain burned out in ministry. He pastored for 17 years in an evangelical denomination. As a result of a major “crash and burn”, Roy experienced both the discipline and the grace of God through years of slow but steady growth, restoration and renewed hope. Prior to joining PIR Ministries in 2012, Roy spent 16 years in industry, focusing on management and quality systems.
Roy served as a Regional Director for PIR Ministries from 2012 to 2016; and was appointed the Executive Director of PIR Ministries in 2016.
Roy and his wife, Deb, have been married for 42 years. Roy is an ordained ruling elder and regular teacher at Grace Chapel EPC in Michigan. He is a graduate of William Tyndale College.