Principles For Effective Pastoral Ministry - 3

Title: Principles For Effective Pastoral Ministry - 3
Category: Pastoral Issues
Subject: Pastoral Ministry
Principles For Effective Pastoral Ministry - 3

Dr. Roger D. Willmore
Weaver, Alabama


The modern day pastor lives and ministers under enormous pressures and problems. It has been said that the number one cause of stress in pastor's life is the unrealistic expectations of his people. The fact is that he feels that he is always obligated to meet every need and please every person.

William Moore in a study of 341 clergy from 36 denominations and 43 states showed that unrealistic expectations are a major factor in pastor burnout.

Source - Malony And Hunt

The Psychology of Clergy

It is almost overwhelming when you think about how many people are involved in formulating expectations for a pastor's ministry: church members, colleagues, theological educators, role models, and more.

Pastor's expectations are shaped by:

1. Amateurs - Those who possess limited knowledge of the nature of the ministry. These people can be well meaning, but at the same time add much pressure on the pastor because they are not knowledgeable of the full nature of his work.
2. Troubled People - people who have chronic personal problems and see the pastor as "Mr. Fixit".
3. Family - The legitimate need to give his family the time they need and deserve.
4. Community - The need to be a part of the community.
5. Church Organizational Structures - committees, constitutions and by-laws, traditions, denominational policies and more.
6. Personal - these are self induced pressures, i.e., perfectionist attitude, too busy, goals too high, misguided view of success, etc.
7. Inner Agitator - The inner agitator is actually an inner antagonist - an accuser who arouses fear of failure, reminds of unfulfilled obligations, and saturates thoughts with blame. Often the inner agitator holds the pastor captive to a truthhood of accumulated expectations from his past that have little to do with his present.

In their book, Pastor's At Risk, H. B. London and Niel Wiseman list twelve steps for overcoming potential problems in the ministry.

Where can pastor's find help? Perhaps the best hope is in ministers themselves.

What attributes will empower the pastor to function at a happier and healthier level in ministry?:

Step 1 - Resist Personal Spiritual Power Leakage.

Like the necessity of oxygen for human life or gasoline for the automobile, a pastor's intimacy with Christ is the irreducible minimum for useful ministry. Everything in ministry depends on the pastor's personal faith.

Step 2 - Commit To Contentment And Change.

These ideas do not seem to go together but in the context of pastoral ministry they do. No one will follow a complainer. The pastor must have an attitude of gratitude - contentment - in order to lead people to change.

Step 3 - "Re-Vision" Your Mission

Why does the church exist and why are you in the ministry? Answer these questions.

Step 4 - Choose Abundance Mentality

Abundance mentality simply means that for everyone there is sufficient grace, faith, victory, provision, good results, creativity, imagination and accomplishments. None of these provisions has limited supply.

Step 5 - Cultivate A Break-Out Spirit

Imagination and innovation are in short supply everywhere, especially in the church. Use your imagination.

Step 6 - Question Quality vs. Quantity Myth

False choices in ministry need not be made between quality and quantity because they are inexorably tied together. Ministry usually gets bigger when it gets better.

Step 7 - Transform Ambiguities Into Authenticities

Use language that people understand.

Step 8 - Cherish People

A veteran pastor lectured beginners: "You can't learn ministry in commentaries, classrooms, or cloisters. All three help, but flesh and blood human beings are the raw material of ministry just as the human body is the basic element of medicine. You only learn ministry among people.

Step 9 - Fuel Perseverance With Passion

Someone correctly observed, "The main problem of ministry is that pastors give up a minute, a week, or a month too soon."

Passionate perseverance makes ministry more interesting; impacts those around us; and increases our own stability, resiliency and buoyancy.

Step 10 - Treasure The Pleasure of God

The inner call for balance takes us back to the unrealistic expectation issue, which sometimes starts with the pastor himself. Everyone in the pastor's sphere of influence, including his family, has an opinion about how he should do his work - AND NO TWO EVALUATIONS AGREE. Therefore the pastor must seek first to please God.

To feel the pleasure of God in ministry - what a liberating thought in the midst of so many contemporary risks. Sadly, many pastors rush through life without once realizing that their work is pleasing to the Chief.

Step 11 - Dare To Lead

No one can give a pastor leadership of a church by a one-time appointment or election. Two monumental stumbling blocks prevent it: 1) leadership is always earned and never bestowed 2) no one follows those who do not lead.

Peter Drucher offers insightful guidance to the church when he calls leadership a peak performance by one who is "the trumpet that sounds a clear sound of the organization's goals". His five requirements for this task are amazingly reliable and useful for those who dare to lead churches:

1. A leader works.

2. A leader sees his assignments as responsibilities rather than rank or privilege.

3. A leader wants strong, capable, self-assured, independent associates.

4. A leader creates human energies and vision.

5. A leader develops follower's trust by his own consistency and integrity.

By using Drucher's leadership directives, a creative surge of satisfaction can come to a pastor. He is then able to harness energy which has been previously wanted.

Step 12 - Exege Your Environment

Effective biblical preaching is a continuous interplay between the meaning of scripture, the needs of hearers, and the character and competence of the preacher.

Alexander McClaren said, "A true sermon always has humanity within it, and Divinity behind it."

Tools for exegeting the environment include: awareness, sensitivity, reflection, and listening as well as historical records and key questions of knowledgeable persons in his congregation and community.