Prepare yourselves. Equip yourselves. The work of “the man of God” is no easy task. It is a high calling that comes with great joy and great difficulties. Great joy because you get to open the Word of God and explain it to His people. This is done after you have studied it and have been humbled, moved, exhorted, rebuked, encouraged, comforted, equipped and drawn closer to Christ. As you are preparing to expound the Holy Writ, you are getting a glimpse at the majesty of the Living God. You are beholding His glory and it soothes your soul. And as you have been moved by Him, through His Word, you will be passionate (any pastor that is not passionate about heralding the Scriptures should perhaps re-consider his calling) in your preaching. Then comes the great joy of seeing God’s people overtaken by His greatness as you are heralding His name to them. You get to observe their love and passion for Christ grow and even re-kindled. Oh the joys of this great calling of preaching His Word and shepherding His people! “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Ti 3:1–2).
Yes, prepare and equip yourselves for this. How so? By understanding that it is only one side of the ministry. Chances are that if you think that you are being called to enter the pulpit (you must meet the qualifications given in 1 Timothy and Titus) it is because as you study the Word of God it moves you to share and help explain it to others. It is like a burning pot of melting Gold in your heart that you cannot contain and you must turn to someone and say, “Here have some!” But you must prepare yourself that others you are attempting to share the gold with may not want it. On the contrary they may despise and dislike you for it. They do not share the same joy of God’s pure and unaltered Word. Partly because others have been giving them fools gold and therefore they do not know how to recognize the real thing. They may think you are the impostor peddling rubbish. This is why you need to equip yourself. The joy you have may be frowned upon by others. How are you going to handle the discouragement? I suggest that you study the life of the apostle Paul and his son in the faith Timothy. Paul was often rejected and his authority often called into question. Even by those he led to Christ (see 1 and 2 Corinthians). Timothy was young and perhaps shy. His youth may have been looked down upon (see 1 and 2 Timothy). He needed to be encouraged by Paul. That is why it will be imperative that you keep Christ at the focal point of you ministry and read what other “men of God” have written about concerning the ministry. They share, warn and prepare you for the struggles that await.
Many young men go into the pulpit thinking that they are going to change the world. That their preaching will numerically grow the church that they have been called to pastor. Yet if they stay faithful to preaching the whole counsel of God (if they don’t, they need to step down since that is not optional), which includes preaching the difficult truths of God’s Word- the sovereignty of God, election, repentance, exposing sin, the depravity of man e.t.c.- they may decrease the size of the church. People not accustomed to hearing texts of Scripture expounded on will flee the church and even they, along with some that remain, will blame the pastor. He often gets tagged as “confrontational,” “legalist,” “hell fire and brimstone,” “divisive” e.t.c. People will also mistake and question your motives. This all comes from the fact they he is only being faithful to what God has called and gifted him to do. It is the Holy Writ that is divisive: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the hear” (Heb 4:12). But since it is Christ’s under-shepherd that is called to proclaim this Word of God, it is he that gets blamed. After all no one wants to blatantly call God into question. Thus, like the faithful men of God that have been called to proclaim God’s Word, whether they be the prophets of old or apostles of the N.T., modern day minsters will be slandered, accused, and rejected. This is a painful thing since it typically comes from the ones that they are called to shepherd.
The ministry has its struggles. It is a very difficult thing. You must prepare and equip yourselves for this. The failure to understand this particular difficulty in ministry has led many to abandon the authority of God’s Word and go to some other human forms that are believed to be more effective. Fearing men rather than God is a real threat for the pastor. But please understand that the rejection from men is a part of you’re calling. To love Christ means to love His sheep and to love Christ and His sheep is to proclaim the Word of God- all of it! Even if they hate you for it. Your responsibility as an under-shepherd is to lead and protect them. You cannot do this apart from giving them God’s Word. Always keep Christ and His glory at the forefront of your ministry (Philippians 3:8-11). To take your eyes off of Him and exclusively place them on the congregation is to invite shipwreck to your ministry. Finally, remember that loving the sheep requires that you give them the Word of God no matter how much you may be disliked for it: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Ti 4:1–5). Soli Deo Gloria!
For His Glory,