For us, insecurity is an occupational hazard and a ministry inconsistency. After all, we constantly assure our people of God’s unwavering love and protection yet it seems God so often pushes us to the breaking point of faith and confidence.

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Over the years, we’ve all known some difficult and even dangerous troublemakers in our congregations but wolves are rare, at least in my experience. As Paul intimates, they tend to emerge from church leadership—pastors, elders, or teachers—people positioned to lead others astray. We ourselves are not immune. You or I could become our own worst enemy.

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‘It’s a Thing of the Soul’

“I must personally supervise the care of the sheep or I shouldn’t be a shepherd,” the Bedouin shepherd said. “It’s a thing of the soul; it’s not a business.” So oversee your own soul. Be confident in your cape, the mantle which the Spirit has draped over your shoulders. And do not forget that those ordinary people you shepherd, including yourself, were redeemed by the blood of Jesus our Lord.

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‘Testifying to the Good News of God’s Grace’

Pastoral work is hard and draining. The blessed counterbalance to the wearisome weight of ministry is “the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” That’s what can keep us putting one foot in front of the other. Dispensing and embodying God’s grace in Christ is like spiritual adrenaline energizing a weary runner.

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To Finish

I don’t think pastors fail because the burdens are too heavy or the enemies too fierce. I wonder if the difference between finishing and failing—the one test that is up to us—is simply being true.

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What matters most in our ministries is delivering God’s Word to both believers and unbelievers. All good shepherds, if indeed God has called them, have a Spirit-given instinct, affinity, and capacity for Scripture. After all, a shepherd who cannot handle the Bible is like a shepherd without rod and staff, helpless to feed, lead, or guard the flock.

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