Summary: A Pastors advice to his son on the day of his ordination to the Christian ministry. Son, keep close to Christ; keep close to your people; and by the grace of God seek to bring the two together.
The Call to Pastoral Ministry.
Service of Ordination into the Christian ministry
Scripture readings: 2nd Corinthians 4:1-10, 16 – 18; 1st Peter 5:1- 4.
There is so much that could be said at this time, but my message can be summed up in the words of advice that a pastor father gave to his son on the day of his ordination. “Son, keep close to Christ; Keep close to your people and by the grace of God seek to bring them together.”
First of all: Keep close to Christ. The Bible says, guard your heart. And at the heart of your ministry there must be a personal relationship with your Lord and Savior. The world is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men and women. With God, people are more important than programs or methods.
As church leaders we cannot possibly fulfill all the demands made upon our time. One thing I've learned the hard way is the importance of setting priorities in ministry. After four years of full-time ministry I was suffering from a breakdown in health and emotional burnout. Then I committed myself to the priorities of prayer, people in need and proclamation of the Gospel in word and deed. I have not always followed these perfectly but the discipline has literally changed my life. I suggest that your priorities be like the spokes of a wheel with Christ and the word of God at the center. The hub is the most important part of the wheel. So the hub or center of your life should be your devotional life, your time spent in prayer and personal Bible study.
No Christian is greater than his or her prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing with his or her own soul and the souls of their people. God has to do the work in us, before he can do a work through us, because the work that we do flows out of the life that we live. Ministry without character, without integrity, is only religious activity! It simply will not last. I believe your character in Christ likeness will be your greatest asset over the long haul. Remember, talent is a gift but character is a choice.
There is something awesome and wonderful about one's ordination into the Christian ministry. It is a recognition by members of the body of Christ that here is an individual called by God to communicate by word and deed, the unsearchable riches of Christ. For you................... this service is not the end but we trust the beginning of a very fruitful and meaningful ministry for the glory of God and the building of Christ's Kingdom here on earth. I was glad to hear you say that you really felt called by God to this special ministry. There will be times in the days and years ahead when you will need that strong call of God to fall back upon, especially if and when things get tough. Vance Havner once said, “In today's world, a pastor needs three things: the mind of a scholar, the heart of a child and the hide of a rhinoceros. Your hardest job is to learn how to toughen your hide without hardening your heart or softening your brain.”
One way to keep close to Christ is through prayer. And in speaking of its importance, this applies to both pulpit and pew. Pastors are under tremendous pressures these days. I believe Satan's chief targets are twofold- first he seeks to destroy marriage and the family and second, he plots the downfall of Pastors and Christian leaders. The devil knows that if he can take a Christian leader down, many others will fall as well. And if there was ever a time when believers should pray for their pastors, and their pastor's family, it is today. Furthermore, I believe that God will bless the church that prays for and seeks to honour its pastor. And speaking of the pastors family I know that .................................... had a very meaningful role to play in your journey toward ordination. And let us never forget that it was the power of the Holy Spirit that energized the early Christians and all of us here today desperately need that same power in our lives and ministries. Yes, keep close to Christ, the source of that power
But, our preacher father also advised his son: keep close to your people.
Seek to know them and understand them. A godly pastor from Scotland, spoke these words years ago, which are still relevant today. “Always be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. There could be a broken heart in every church pew.”
Down through the years, various titles have been given to Gods leaders in the church. Some are from the New Testament, others have been added later. Titles, such as Elder, Bishop, Priest, Preacher, Clergyman, Cleric, Rector, Parson, Minister, Father, Reverent, even Sky- pilot. But here is a remarkable fact, Jesus never called himself any of these. But he did refer to himself as a shepherd. He said he was sent to gather the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. In the New Testament the Greek word for pastor is almost always translated shepherd, from the verb “to shepherd.” Jesus saw individuals as lost sheep, lost coins, prodigal children, builders on sand, as weary and heavy laden. As you tell people about the love of God, you can seek to be the love of God to them. It is amazing what can be accomplished through patience and prayer. All of us are much like children. We seek for someone who will understand us and believe in us, in spite of our imperfections.