7 Joys of Pastoral Ministry

What’s the worst day of the week for pastors? Probably Monday. For the previous seven days, we’ve poured ourselves into sermon preparation, pastoral visitation, counseling, evangelism, problem solving, prayer, etc. The Sunday climax (anti-climax?) has come and gone. We may have been discouraged by low attendances, limited or negative feedback, etc. Our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual reserves are in the red. Yet we have to climb the mountain all over again. Monday “blues” can very quickly become Monday “blacks.”

However, without ignoring the real difficulties, let us also remember the joys of pastoral ministry. Here are seven I try to keep before me, especially on Monday mornings.

Preparing Joys
Every time I enter my study, I think, “What a privilege!” Many are stuck on frustrating freeways or down dangerous mines; others are at monotonous conveyor belts or life-threatening fires; still others work in the midst of cursing and swearing. Yet, here am I looking forward to my Bible, good books and quiet hours spent in the study of God and His grace. I never enter my study without turning to God and saying, “Thank you. I do not deserve this.”

Preaching Joys
Preaching can be frustrating and even frightening. But it can also be so enjoyable and even exciting. How many times we see God work as we speak His Word. We see souls being sobered, saints being encouraged, the sad being uplifted, seekers becoming finders and sinners becoming servants. Sometimes we sense unique and (humanly) inexplicable help when expounding a difficult passage, or making a pointed application. “Where did that come from?” we sometimes wonder. It is the Lord.

Pastoring Joys
I love my study. Sometimes, I love it too much. Books are far less complicated than people. When I was a full-time pastor, I tried to visit every home or family once a year. In my second congregation, that worked out about three to four visits a week. The sick, the elderly and the bereaved added another three to four a week. Problems and counseling added maybe another one to two a week. So probably 10 visits a week on average. That meant two afternoons and two evenings a week. If it was Florida, that would be easy. However, it was the Outer Hebrides: often raining, cold, wet and windy (and that was the summer). I have to admit, it sometimes took my wife to say, “Come on, David, get out of the study and get visiting!” And though I sometimes went reluctantly, I almost always returned home encouraged and uplifted by the fellowship with God’s people and from hearing what God was doing in their lives with His Word.

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David Murray
Dr. David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Seminary. He is also Pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. David is the author of Christians get depressed too, How Sermons Work, and Jesus on Every Page. You can read his blog at HeadHeartHand.org/blog or follow him on Twitter @davidpmurray. David is married to Shona and they have five children ranging from 4 months to 17 years old, and they love camping, fishing, boating, and skiing in the Lake Michigan area.