Pastoral Ministry

"The Plague of Lazy Pastors"

Whether you are in the ministry or not, this post is for you. There have been many books, and especially good ones, that have come out recently about the need for pastors and ministry workers to make sure they have a healthy work life. There is a need for proper and appropriate rest because of a noticeable amount of pastors who “burn out”. As true and good as the books are, there seems to be few that simultaneously promote a good work ethic (something that Protestantism and especially Calvinism has always done). Because of the gospel that speaks of the finished work of Christ on our behalf, Christians should be hard workers and not lazy workers. There is not only a need for good rest but there is certainly a need (if not a greater one) for truly hard work. Unfortunately, it seems that books tend to give more weight towards getting good rest at the expense of showing people how to work hard. But one will see that we must work hard in order to rest well.

Have you ever had the feeling that you needed a vacation from your vacation? There are several times when we spend a lazy Saturday to only feel just as tired the next day! In order to rest well we need to work hard. God gave us six days to work hard for His glory in order that we might rest hard for His glory on the Sabbath. When there is a sub-par work ethic, laziness abounds and rest escapes us.

David Mathis, pastor of Cities Church in Minneapolis and frequent writer for Desiring God, has written a brilliant and much needed post about the work ethic of pastors. In this post, he shows that the Bible frequently talks about how pastors should be hard workers and laborers. The pastor should be known as a hard worker so much so that he is a proper example of what it means to work hard and rest well.

Here is a brief excerpt from his article:

So, good pastors are not lazy. They are hard workers — even in the face of a modern society freshly primed to criticize a leaders’ workism and encourage what amounts to laziness. Outward hard work, however, can come from a sinful inward disposition. All of us, pastors included, can work hard for the wrong reasons. For selfish ambition. For mere kudos and applause. From deep emotional insecurity. What, then, are the right reasons for hard work in pastoral ministry?

First and foremost, we work not for God’s acceptance but from his full embrace in Christ. We first own, in our own souls the Christian gospel, not another. We aim to labor from fullness of soul, not from emptiness. Such is the heart of the Protestant work ethic, noticeably distinct from the prevailing medieval ethic, which came before it and challenged it at every turn.

The first word to every pastor, as to every Christian, is not, Work, but, He worked. It is finished. Look to the labors of Christ. Look how he rose early to meditate and pray, how he navigated intrusive crowds, and had patience with maturing disciples, and untiringly did the works of his Father, and fielded inconvenient pleas from the sick and disabled and disadvantaged.

For the full article, click here.