Classical Pastoral Practice for Today: For Love -- By: Thomas N. Smith

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 12:2 (Spring 2003)
Article: Classical Pastoral Practice for Today: For Love
Author: Thomas N. Smith


Classical Pastoral Practice for Today: For Love

Thomas N. Smith

“I don’t know how you do it.” “I couldn’t do it.” These comments and others like them are occasionally said to ministers of the gospel. They are expressions of empathy, appreciation, and concern from people who look at what ministers do and wonder how and why they do it. Sometimes, such things are expressed more boldly in the words, “I wouldn’t do it for love nor money.” (Sometimes ministers say this to themselves.) The facts are these. If a minister does what he does for money he falls under apostolic condemnation. And, if he does it for anything but love, he falls under the same. In light of such facts, we might be tempted to say, “I wouldn’t do it at all. Period.”

So, on the one hand, there are a score of difficulties and discouragements to be faced in the work of the ministry. And, on the other hand, there are standards to be upheld and an awesome accountability to be faced. Real awareness of such things will make us cry out with Paul, “Who is sufficient for these things?” Such awareness will, paradoxically, keep us out of the ministry, or, in it.

The faithful minister of the New Covenant does what he does from one central, all-encompassing motivation. He does it for love.

The real pastor loves the work itself. He is constitutionally

hard-wired for it. Such things as altruism, idealism, bookishness, studiousness, and seriousness characterize the real minister. Add to this an introspective and philosophical turn of mind, a love for and desire to help people, a sense of history, a sensitivity to the dramatic nature of everyday occurrences, and a profound sense of the importance of time and eternity. There are few careers where such things find such a welcome place to grow and thrive as the Christian ministry. Whether in study or visitation, preaching or teaching, counseling or leadership, the pastor finds himself in his native habitat. He takes to such things “like a fish to water.” And there is more good news. Here is an ideal environment for a man to cultivate all these things. This leads to tremendous happiness in our work. No wonder that many of us are still somewhat awestruck when we are handed our monthly salary check. “You mean, we get paid to do this?”

The real pastor loves to preach and teach. He loves the study and the preparation that goes into preaching and teaching. He loves the challenge of biblical investigation; the wonder of discovering things within the world of the Bible that he did not even suspect existed. He loves the craft of building the sermon and the struggle for relevance in applying the text to the needs of...

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