This past week I have received dozens of questions but I had an email from a few weeks back that asked about challenges that pastors face and how they stand under the challenges. In a quick reply I realized that there are MANY challenges that could stand against shepherds and that they are too many to list and never-ending. Here are a few “thoughts” and then my reply.
- Spiritual Battles of the Enemy – any type of struggle causing any type of struggle.
- Spiritual Battles of the Flesh – this is obvious and would include temptation.
- Spiritual Battles of the Mind – these would include feelings, hurt, pride etc.
- Spiritual Battles of the Heart – the affections and lusts of the world vs. the affections of glory.
- Spiritual Battles of the Word of God
- Spiritual Battles are ALL for our good.
- Challenges come in the form of people
- Challenges come in the form of thoughts
- Challenges come in the form of temptations
- Challenges come in the form of time
- Challenges come and they always will
What challenges (both private & public) are ‘Pastors’ facing daily?
How do they cope? Your insight would be truly appreciated.
I could list hundreds, but off the top of my head, here are the most critical:
CHALLENGE OF UNDERMINING BIBLICAL AUTHORITY
Pastors face the challenge of undermining biblical authority. This means that in the world we live in, it is often the “norm” to just do things that draw people or create environments that would appeal to the masses of the world. In doing this, the pastor demonstrates that he has no faith in God or His power to save.
Let me explain: God’s word does not return void, it goes forth and does that for which it was sent. (Is 55:11) Hebrew 4:12 says that the word of God is living and breathing. 2 Tim 3 teaches that ALL scripture is breathed out by God and is useful for success to all the men of God. 2 Peter writes that all that is needed for life and godliness is given to us by God’s divine power and Paul in Romans 1 says that God’s word and His “gospel” is His power unto salvation. It is also very clear in Rom 10:17 that the hearing of Christ’s word alone brings salvation, nothing else.
John says that the word became flesh, so the word is Jesus who speaks truth as He is truth and Jesus reveals the eternal glory of God to the fullest. If you turn to 2 Cor 4 you will see Paul teaching that there is in no way cunning or tampering with God’s word with any attempt to draw, lure, engage, entice, or incite people to faith or interest. But he says that if people are not interested or cannot see the gospel they preach it is because satan has blinded their eyes and through the open statement of the truth of the gospel their eyes can be opened.
All through Jesus’ ministry people came from near and far to follow him but they perished in their sins because they wanted food, healing, power, encouragement and hope but they didn’t see Him for who He was and couldn’t because they did not have ears to hear. So, to make a long answer longer, the word of God alone is all we need as pastors to successfully shepherd, reach and minister to all the people of the world.
CHALLENGE OF THE PAIN OF THE HEART & PRIDE
Pastors face fear, rejection, temptation, loneliness and other personal issues because the job is demanding, overbearing and at times “prideful” when everyone seems to think highly of us. Therefore, Pride is a problem with many of us if we are not careful.
CHALLENGE OF TIME STEWARDSHIP & COPING
Time – we need more and that which we do have is mostly spent wastefully. We think that “living” with others in their circles and interests is better than prayer, study and teaching of scripture. But scripture has clearly called pastors to shepherd through feeding, not fellowship per se.
How we cope in these matters is surely back to the number one problem… we HOLD FAST to the word of God alone for our needs and desires. He read, meditate and pray.
Secondly, we must be accountable to other men who share the wisdom, maturity and insight of the role of pastor so we are not led to the slaughter by temptation.
Finally, we intercede for ourselves and our flock through prayer as often as possible many times in every hour. We care and we focus on knowing that God will do what He will do and that the outcome of our ministry is not how people respond or who is saved or how big things become, but the faithfulness of God. If Noah had no converts, then he wasn’t a failure because God used him to faithfully preach Christ (2 Peter).
So an added challenge would be to measure success by the world and not the word.
As I post this response, I am reminded that there are millions more and that these could very well each be a series of discussions and thoughts. What challenges do you face pastor? How do you cope?