The Pastor's Charge - Part 1 (Acts 20:17-24)
What makes for a great pastor? What do you look for? Never have I seen or heard this Acts 20 example. Do we search for a pastor through the lens of what pleases us? Or through this - Acts 20:17-24?
I love how Paul begins his talk to the Ephesians' elders / bishops / pastors. You know me. You know how I lived. Follow my example...
"You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia." Acts 20:18 NIV
Who are these elders? We would know them best as pastors today. They each had a flock of people they cared for. May have been house churches. They all were men who had been won to Christ and won to the ministry by Paul in his 3rd missionary journey, when he stayed 3 1/2 years! Think of the great influence to have planted so many churches!
So now he is on his way back to Jerusalem. He wants to arrive there in time for Pentecost. He literally doesn't trust himself to go back to Ephesus. Why? I think because he loved them so much. Sacrificial. So he asks them to meet him in Miletus.
Here is his charge to them...
Charge #1 - ________________________ .
You may say, "This is obvious." But I say to you, "Not so obvious."
Pastors today serve many different masters. Board of Directors. Bishop. District Superintendents. Popularity of congregation. Perhaps various causes, political and/or personal. But the first and last "boss" of the pastor should be Lord Jesus Himself!
"I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents." Acts 20:19 NIV
Is that what you look for in a pastor? A man or a woman whose first loyalty is to the Lord? Someone who exhibits these "right serve" traits?
A) The right serve includes the right ________________ . (with great humility)
How do I arrive at "perspective" from "humility"? Because humility is not just putting oneself down. It is rather an honest appraisal of oneself in the midst of God's universe. Someone who rightly carries the image of God in all his dealings. Someone who realizes the great privilege of being a child of God. Someone who sees people as God sees them - as loved!
B) The right serve includes the right ________________ . (with tears)
Being a pastor is an emotional job! Many highs and lows. Some pastors are naturally more feeling. Others are more intuitive and thinking in their response.
I have to admit that this includes me. On the Myers-Briggs personality type, I score as an ENTJ - Extravert, Intuitive, Thinking, Judgmental. Known as "Commander," "Chief," "Visionary."
Only 2% of the general population, and I would guess even less of those who become a pastor, are ENTJs. Early in my pastoral career, I excused a lack of a feeling response to my personality type.
I have since changed my mind on that. My natural response is without feeling. But I am no longer "natural." I have the Holy Spirit within me. With His guidance He can use my natural strengths to lead the church, but also prompt me to experience the pain of others.
C) The right serve includes the right _______________ . (in the midst of severe testing)
All pastors go through severe testing. I think all the more because of the role they've taken on. Yet, I believe that the ability to see God and His power and His victory in the midst of severe testing is crucial! How has the man or woman you want as pastor handled disappointments?
Charge #2 - __________________________ .
Job #1 of the pastor is to preach! I know that there is this idea going around that some pastors are more care-takers and others are more preachers. Remember that every list for pastors given in the New Testament begins with preaching.
Remember that when the church was just starting out, that the apostles appointed 7 caretakers for the distribution of the food because it wouldn't be right for them to stop preaching to wait on tables.
"You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house." Acts 20:20 NIV
This is not optional for the leader of the church. Paul never hesitated to preach. And neither should your pastor. At every opportunity! God accomplishes amazing, miraculous, life-changing things through preaching. This is not man's plan. This is God's plan!
"Preach the word of God. Be prepared. Whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching." 2 Timothy 4:2 NLT
This is why I put such an emphasis on preaching here at Church Requel. This is why we distribute the sermon notes on Thursday. This is why we dedicate the largest portion of our worship time to the preaching of God's Word each Sunday. This is why we publish the entire message again on Monday morning on YouTube, Facebook and on our website.
And what should be the consistent hallmark of good preaching? We see it here:
"I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus." Acts 20:21 NIV
Do you receive a regular diet, a continuous reminder to repent? To have faith in Jesus? To make him Lord of your life? Not so in every church! There will come a day (I hope not soon), when I can no longer serve as your pastor. When that day comes, will you look for a preacher!?
Charge #3 - ______________________ .
We've already talked about the #1 charge. But how is that uniquely identified in each pastor? You will find that the true pastor is compelled!
"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there." Acts 20:22 NIV
Paul was compelled to go to Jerusalem. Each pastor will be uniquely compelled to something different. This is a calling. We often talk about THE CALL into ministry. But that's never the last call. There should be an open prayer line between God and pastor. The next challenge. The next gotta do! The job of pastor is not just a job. Not a set of tasks to check off. There should be a drive from within that cannot always be explained.
"My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me." Acts 20:24 NIV
This should be the same drive for every pastor. To finish the race well. To complete the task given - not by the board of directors - but by the Lord Jesus Himself. Part of what makes each church so unique is the unique calling of each pastor.
I've made no secret that I personally would never have chosen Church Requel as the church I would pastor. It has become something I've never intended. A second chance church. A place for people to call home, who don't have another place to call home. A church to discover the love and acceptance of Christ when shunned by other Christians and other churches. A church where you get the chance to pursue growth in Christ and service of Christ and the trust of Christ, when you might not have that chance elsewhere.
God has accomplished something unique and special here, but it was never MY goal... except as I'm committed to finish the job He started.
That's why I also want to...
"I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7 ESV
(Also 1 Corinthians 9:24, Hebrews 12:1, Philippians 3:12-14)
Conclusion: Shouldn't these 3 charges also reflect YOUR call as a Christ-follower?