I’ve written about 50 articles for Preaching Today, Leadership Journal, and CT Pastors. Below are a few of my favorites. If you’d like to browse all my articles at their website, click the button below.
That hard ground of tough ministerial work that Paul described—fight the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith—is the seedbed of the righteousness God grows in us. Remember Jesus’ kingdom parable about the man who scattered seed? “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain” (Mark 4:27-28). Our righteousness grows as we persevere in pastoring.
Once my pastoral heroes were older shepherds. Now they are you—today’s Timothy and Titus, Phoebe and Priscilla—the younger shepherds who come behind me, loving Christ, gripping your Bibles, learning to pray, determined to feed, lead, and guard the flocks God has entrusted to you.
When we’re hired we all talk about vision and goals but then comes those blizzards where we can’t see a thing, our agenda is forgotten, and all we hope is to get safely home. Paul’s second letter to Timothy focused on staying the course. “Proclaim the word,” he told Timothy, “in good seasons and bad.” Blizzards are bad seasons.
Here’s the problem: pressure, weariness, confusion, and sin tend to distract pastors from this primary Wordwork. Our daily duties—planning, putting out fires, meetings, reading, emails—all can be infused with Scripture, but you and I both know that they often aren’t. Sometimes the Bible becomes a plaque on the wall of our work.
Pastors draw energy from promising and interesting challenges—a new discipleship strategy, a surge in visitors, young believers eager to grow, the next sermon series. But sometimes the rains don’t come. The pandemic drove most pastors into a wilderness of bewildering tech demands, preaching to an empty room, and trying to shepherd without presence. Add to that the debilitating conflicts so many pastors face among their people. Badlands indeed.
Conflicts and threats drive our hearts into arid places. It is good and pleasant when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity, but it is terribly dry and dreary when they don’t. I spoke with pastor friend recently who was at his wit’s end over immoveable leaders and he was ready to move from push to shove. You know the feeling, I’m sure. But what I heard gasping beneath his frustration was his thirsty heart.