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Pastoral Attitude

1 Peter 5 covers some essential points necessary for a proper pastoral attitude, as well as some common leadership temptations to be guarded against. As faithful stewards, we must personally evaluate our attitudes, actions, and desires by these scriptural guidelines.

First, let’s cover the temptations to avoid and then end with the positive exhortations. This passage mentions 2 common, dangerous temptations that every ministry leader must make a special effort to avoid. (1) You must avoid the temptation of greed. Those who oversee God’s work are to receive adequate support from the church and to be content with basic and necessary provisions for themselves and their families. No minister ought to make himself rich from God’s work. Those who fall victim to this temptation open themselves up to sins of greed, compromise, and theft. For the sake of money, they compromise God’s Word, righteous standards, and kingdom principles. (FLSB, p.1962). Neither is it worth the reproach brought on the name of our Lord and the possible loss of one’s ministry to give in to greed. (2) You must avoid the desire for power. Verse 3 commands that you should not lord it over the people entrusted to you by God. Those greedy for power will dominate those whom they are to serve by excessively using their authority. Instead, the pastor must lead the church by being an example to the flock in devotion to Christ, humble service, perseverance in righteousness, steadfastness in prayer, and love for the Word of God. (FLSB, p. 1962) Though we are to oversee the ministry, the Word of God strictly commands that it is to be done through service, i.e., a servant attitude, and with the heart of a shepherd.Next, we are instructed to shepherd God’s flock, His people that He has entrusted to our care. Think of all the imagery associated with a shepherd. It always consists of tenderness, compassion, and watchful care. Several positive actions are emphasized in this passage. (1) You should serve as an overseer out of a willing heart, not a feeling of compulsion. If ministry is becoming a feeling solely of responsibility, wait before God in solitude to let Him rekindle the spirit of a willing heart. (2) You must be examples to the flock. How? A good partial list is that of Titus 1:7-9, not overbearing, not quick-tempered, hospitable, loving good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. (3) You must clothe yourself in humility. Previously when reading this passage, I envisioned clothing of that period and the term as implying completely covered in humility. Can your attitudes and actions be viewed by your fellow leaders, assistants, and children as being completely covered in humility? A recent word study in the FLSB gives a slightly different cultural view to that term, but not completely different in concept. The Greek word for clothe in this passage refers to a piece of cloth that slaves attached to themselves in New Testament times to show others that they were slaves. Similarly, your humility should identify you as a slave of Christ. If it isn’t there, what are you being identified with?

Back in the late 1980’s, Gary and I attended a large, national children’s pastors’ conference, about the only one in existence at that time. Children’s ministry was not popular in the church world at that time and salary and budget–hard to believe–were even worse. However, the leader of that conference invited his senior pastor to attend. The senior pastor’s remark was one of amazement in that he had never attended a conference with other pastors which was pervaded by a spirit of humility. The other ministers’ conferences appeared to be a competition of church size, staff size, building programs, and the like. However, as children’s ministry has grown, becoming the fastest growing staff position in most denominations, it appears that we have lost our spirit of humility. Now children’s ministry conferences are often noted for a spirit of competition or pride, comparing the size of one’s children’s ministry staff, budget, and children’s church attendance. We must be clothed with humility if we are going to be identified as slaves of Christ!

We must be self-controlled and alert because there is an adversary opposing us. We must be alert to his schemes. He is a deceiver. Deceivers trick people into thinking things are safe that are actually harmful, so we must be alert. But we must also be self-controlled. Now self-control is necessary for all areas of Christian obedience, but this verse is very likely referring back to 4:7 just a few verses earlier: Be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. With all the busyness and exhaustion of the ministry and the spiritual battles that accompany it, it takes a decided effort to be self-controlled and have the necessary time to pray and pull down spiritual strongholds.

What is the end result of a proper pastoral attitude? Verse 10 says that God Himself will restore you, regardless of suffering you may be enduring, and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. Since victory comes from a proper pastoral attitude, nothing is worth the neglect of it. Let’s sincerely evaluate ourselves in the light of God’s standards, not the common ones around us, and see strength, restoration, and victory!

© by Alisa Linn
Children’s Ministry Today

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