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Glamorizing the Ministry

Good Evening. A Puritan’s Mind brings you the old time radio program The Wild Boar News Podcast from Sunny South Florida. Welcome, I’m Dr. Matthew McMahon.

I’ve run across too many preachers who desire to preach because they believe that their calling is based on affinity more than the true calling of the ministry. What do I mean? Affinity is defined as “a natural attraction or feeling of kinship.” Sticking particularly with those not seeking to preach the Word of God for profit as most TV preachers do, but rather who have an affinity to Reformed Theology and desire others to know its truths, such preachers often solidify their affinity for the ministry with theological kinship.

Think about the pastor of your local church. When they were not pastors what determined their calling? How did they share their calling? What definable traits deemed their calling genuine? What criteria did the elders of your church place upon that man as he solidified his ministerial position with your church body?

There is a great portion of one’s pastoral calling that frequently is tied to the glamorization of the ministry due to their affinity with theological giants of the past. When “wanna be” pastors find Reformation Theology, and the richness of those further definable points of interest in Post Reformation Theological views, there is an insatiable need to share those truths which further develops into an affinity with those giants of old to “be like them.”

At that point, ministry changes. Pastoral ministry should not be set upon the affinity with theological giants of the past. Ministry is not about sitting in one’s study perusing over tomes of Puritan literature in order to bring about a Sunday sermon that shakes the rooftops as puritan experimental preaching did 400 years ago. It is not about locking one’s self behind closed doors to study all day long. It is not based on the glamorization of Reformation history brought back to life by a pastor’s false affinity.

Scholarship behind closed doors is one thing. But that is not ministry. It is certainly not pastoral ministry. It could be that one may be called to be scholarly and to lock their doors in order to study for some evangelical end.

To speak more directly, pastoral ministry is about being called of God to sacrifice your life for the good of the sheep that God sends you to for His glory. Think of God’s pastors of old. Noah watched the destruction of the human race and then continued to preach to 7 people for years and years. His church was his household. What about Moses who left Pharaoh’s court to be with the persecuted brethren? The prophets? Well, Isaiah’s life was no picnic. Jeremiah – the weeping prophet? Jonah, who ran from God? Amos, whose ministry lasted all but 30 minutes, or the time it took to stand up and read Amos aloud? John the Baptist got his head cut off. Even God’s own Son, Jesus Christ was sent to die. His apostles longed to be in heaven, but as Paul said, he would rather stay for it is better for the church that he does. Suffering, persecution and sacrifice. Pastoral ministry is not glamorous. It is not about memorizing the sermons of the Reformers, or being “Reformed”. Such a glamorization will cause you to fall from that lofty height, that fantasy place, very quickly.

People often find fantastical outlets to remedy their hum-drum lives. Movies, games, drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, fantasy of all kinds. But in the highest calling a man may be called to, to pastor the flock of God, the foundation of that calling can never be the fantasy of glamorizing the ministry. It makes the up and coming minister no better than drug addict who will crash after a few hard years, or less, of real life ministry. The drug wears off quickly. The glamour disappears, and he finds himself standing in the midst of people with real needs and real life pains and he will not know what to do because he thought ministry was simply about preaching puritanical sermons and getting that Sunday afternoon pat on the back from his parishioners. Remember that even the great men of history saw through such a façade. Jonathan Edwards was ejected from his church, and he was one of the greatest puritan affiniates ever.

That is why James is so hard on those who want to be teachers. There is a great difference between enjoying Reformational theology and being called of God, truly to lead His people.
James 3:1, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

This is Dr. Matthew McMahon signing off.

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