Pastoral Ministry; October 23, 2021

1 Thessalonians 3:8-9 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?

Why would anyone become a pastor? The hours are totally irregular, the stresses are often high, and the pay is seldom high. The answer is right here. The level of satisfaction, accomplishment, and yes, joy, when believers really “get it” and stand firm in the Lord is worth it all! There’s an expression here that translates perfectly into Japanese, but isn’t native to English, that catches it very well. The NIV renders it as “really live,” but it’s a little bit more of “have a reason to live.” I’ve seen a couple of articles recently by Americans who’ve discovered the Japanese expression and concept, and their excitement was a little amusing to me, since I’ve known and understood it since childhood. Paul’s words here give the picture very well, because having a reason to live is certainly something to be thankful for. This also ties into the matter of legacy, because spiritual children beat out just about anything else you could leave behind when you die. Some pastors, even are consumed with buildings and programs and the like, wondering how they will be remembered, when none of that is eternal and human souls are. Paul isn’t saying that the Thessalonian believers are perfect, but he is assured that they are established in Christ, and that’s the important thing. If pastors indeed placed their priority on establishing believers in Christ, churches and society as a whole would be far better!

I’m in the middle of another practicum in this very issue. As I was typing this I had a call from someone who has only just become connected to this church, saying that their 97-year-old mother had just passed away, so I had to call to make arrangements for a casket and hearse and the like, and now we have the issues of when to have the wake and funeral. The members of this family aren’t my spiritual children, since I only just met them, but I have peace that their faith is genuine, including that of the one who has just passed. This is going to be an opportunity to act as Christ’s body indeed, not only in comforting the family but in testifying to the Buddhist relatives who will be involved. I don’t have the wisdom or organizational skills to handle it all, but God certainly does, so I’m to rest, relax, and rejoice in Him. This will be an opportunity for the family to integrate fully into the church, as well as for us all to proclaim our hope of eternal life, and for that I can rejoice indeed!

Father, thank You for all that You take me through, and that You make it all worth it indeed. The scheduling issues loom rather large in my mind at the moment, but I know that You have the perfect plan for that. I pray that everyone involved would recognize and follow Your schedule, with peace and even joy. May we function as the Body of Christ indeed, doing Your will on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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