20th February - The Heart of a Pastor


Galatians 4: 8-20 (Morning Prayer)

Have you sometimes wondered what actually goes on in the heart of a good pastor? 

From Galatians 4:9, we see that Paul was concerned for the faithfulness of the believers. Will they turn back to what they had left behind? Is his labour in vain? We know from 1 Cor 11:28 that he faced daily pressures of this concern for all the churches. This is important to note for the modern pastors, for me and my colleagues in ministry. Are we more concerned about our own needs than the spiritual needs of our congregation? That is not to say that St Paul, was unaffected by personal criticisms, some which were nasty and ill-intended. But undoubtedly, what affected him the most was the spiritual condition of the flock under his charge. 

Paul also alluded to the sense of oneness (Gal 4:12-14) he shared with the Galatians, especially the vulnerability he shared "through his bodily ailment." Such was their love for him that they would be willing to "gouge out their eyes” for his sake. Yet something has affected this bond that he shared with them. As always, there were some third-party influencers and plotters. Paul found that by telling the truth, he has now become an adversary to his flock. Some issues have caused a  wedge between him and them. He could see that they “were being made much of, but for no good purpose.” (Gal 4:17)

In my years of ministry as a Pastor, I can recall the anguish that some pastors felt when their own flock turned against them, often through the work of a few instigators. Often, truth is sacrificed. What has happened to Paul repeats itself in the history of the Church. Only those we love can betray us. After all, as the singer-songwriter Michael Card wrote in his poignant song "Why?”:

Only a friend can betray a friend
A stranger has nothing to gain
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain

And here again, Paul anguished for the good of the Galatians, that they may be made much for a good purpose (Gal 4:18). He said it again, that his role as a father has not ceased, and that he will continue to anguish "till Christ is formed in them" (Gal 4:19). 

I don’t think any pastor can wish to be spared. It is a known job hazard. This can also happen to any Bible Study, Cell or Connect Group  leader as each of you are also pastoring up close. Like Paul, a pastor should love his flock till the end. Pastors should never fight the people they love. Fight only to protect the flock, not yourself. If the end is another instigated "crucifixion," then you would have followed the way of Christ.  

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