Colossians 1:28-29 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
This really encapsulates pastoral ministry. It starts with proclaiming Christ, but it certainly doesn’t stop there. After all, getting someone born again just produces a spiritual baby, and the goal is certainly beyond that. The NIV says, “presenting everyone perfect,” but I like the turn of phrase in the Japanese: “causing everyone to stand as a mature adult.” Some churches are full of babies, with few mature adults, some churches are like retirement homes with no babies, and sadly, many are full of people who should be adults in terms of time past, but have no maturity. A truly healthy church will have a good balance of babies and adults, and won’t let anyone stagnate on the path to maturity. Do any such exist? I’m not sure about that, but I do know that is the ideal that should be kept in focus, and it is toward that goal that every pastor should be admonishing and teaching. The good news is, the power of Christ indeed works powerfully through anyone who is fully committed and yielded to Him. That doesn’t mean the pastor isn’t actively involved in the process, as Paul makes clear here. Being a pastor can be exhausting work, even with the power of Christ on our side!
Every pastor has their own strengths, and mine is in teaching. In admonishing, not so much. It’s no surprise that church discipline is lacking when discipline is deficient in most homes and society practically frowns on self control! I am certainly not to be a petty tyrant, nor squash people’s initiative, but I must not be afraid to risk their not liking me, for the sake of bringing them to maturity in Christ. I am to encourage more than spank (figuratively, of course) but not be afraid to speak a strong word when it is called for. Of course, that is complicated for me, as it is for every pastor, by my own imperfection. I must not fail to listen to and heed my own sermons, but I also must not draw back from administering the same corrections the Lord has had to make in me. As Paul said to the Ephesians, “Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)
Father thank You for this Word. Guide me in sharing it in the way You want me to, so that each person in this church may indeed be brought to full maturity, causing many more to be born into Your family, rejoicing together to be Your children, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!