As a layman who entered the ministry late in life, I was familiar with many of the things that I would be up against. Here is what Clarence Macartney wrote in 1946 about the minister. Perhaps times havent changed that much after all.
View From the Pew
If the minister has no wife, he certainly needs one. If he has one, we hope she doesnt mess things up. If his wife knows how to dress, she is too flamboyant. If she doesnt know how to dress, she is a disgrace to the congregation. If she speaks in the Womens Fellowship meetings, she is trying to run the church. If she doesnt speak, she is aloof. If she doesnt sing in the choir, she is not supporting the ministry. If she does sing in the choir, she has a voice like a mule.
If the minister is quiet, dignified, and reserved, he is cold. If he goes about slapping men on the back and telling stories, he should have been a car salesman. If he preaches without notes, he is not deep enough. If he preaches with notes, he is too deep and dry. If he preaches on the great doctrines, he ought to preach practical sermons. If he preaches practical sermons, he needs to learn the great doctrines. If he calls on the rich, he is too haughty. If he calls on the poor, he is too humble. If he tries to make a lot of changes, he has too many new ideas. If he keeps everything the same, he needs to learn some new ideas.
All new ministers need good advice. In 1 Timothy 4:11-16 Paul gave the young minister Timothy a charge that I want to look at today.
Command and teach these things. Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
I believe the first calling of a minister is to love and care for the people. It should not come as a surprise that the two most common words for the office are minister and pastor. A minister is one who serves others, and a pastor is one who tends and cares for the flock. There are some clergy who want to be known as reverend. They want people to honor them and treat them with due respect. I dont believe that we are called to be reverends. We are called to be pastors and ministers. We are to serve others, and we are to love them, tend to them, and care for them.
Noyes writes, "No man, minister or layman, can confine the results of his life and work to himself. He must be sobered by the realization that more people than he can ever know are influenced for good or bad by what he is and does."
Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching.
I believe the second calling of a minister is to help believers reach their full potential in Christ through Bible study, teaching, and encouragement. We gather together each Sunday to worship God. But we also come together to learn how to walk the Christian walk. It is the ministers job to help those whom God has placed in his care to learn how to overcome daily spiritual struggles, to learn how to be set free from bondage, and to learn how to share the gospel message with others.
Martin comments, "Pastoral and liturgical responsibilities include the public reading of Scripture; proclamation that seems to be tied to the exposition of scriptural words with a dash of exhortation; and teaching that emphasizes the...training of believers."
Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you.
God has given each one of us gifts. But he has given ministers a special gift a gift of pastoral care. We are not to neglect the gifts that God has given us, but we must be willing to use them for Gods glory. Some have been given gifts of preaching, others gifts of teaching, still others ability to organize programs, and others have special musical gifts or other talents. God wants us to use them all to the best of our ability. Let us not neglect the gifts he has given us.
Practice these duties, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
I believe the third calling of a minister is to spend the time necessary in prayer, study, and spiritual renewal so that he is able to be the best that he can be for God. It is a learning process. There is much preparation work that a pastor must be willing to do. Nothing will come to him who is not willing to spend time working at it. I believe we must be committed to God, dedicated to studying, and devoted to his people. If we are willing to spend the time tilling and watering and planting, God will give us an abundant harvest.
When the great gold rush of California was in full swing in 1849, many men became very rich. One year, we took a trip up the Mother Lode, starting in Mariposa and going all the way up to Eureka-Plumas State Park. We visited the Empire mine and the Gold Bug mine in Placerville. We stayed at the Murphys Hotel where Mark Twain had stayed and we stayed at the National Hotel in Nevada City. We visited the Indian grinding stones and Daffodil Hill. Along the way we visited some towns that were no longer there, and other towns that had only shells of buildings left. It must have been a hard life to be a gold miner. There was gold to be found, but it had to be worked at to get it.
Macartney wrote about a different kind of gold, the gold of pastoral ministry. "You are going out today into the land of Christian ministry where there is gold. You will have to search for it, and dig for it, and toil for it, and suffer for it; but the gold is there and the gold of that land is good."
This study on 1 Timothy 4:11-16 © 1998 by
David Humpal, All Rights Reserved
Macartneys Illustrations pg. 232 © 1946, Abingdon Press revised slightly by David Humpal
Noyes: The Interpreters Bible, vol. 11, pg. 433-434 © 1955, Abingdon Press (Noyes wrote weal or woe instead of good or bad)
Martin: Harpers Bible Commentary pg. 1240 © 1988, Harper and Row
Macartneys Illustrations pg. 233 © 1946, Abingdon Press