What would pastoral success look like to me?
I can sum it up simply by saying: when my church grows in the unity of the faith into the perfect man, Christ Jesus. I’d want to see Christlikeness in the people in my church. Not perfection, but a definite moving in that direction.
What would that look like?
People would show up, not just to church, but for each other. They would visit each other, provide needs for each other, fellowship on their own initiative, do acts of mercy and kindness for those outside the church, shepherd their own families, witness to their neighbors, and such like.
If these things were happening, I’d feel like I was succeeding at my job.
At the same time, it would probably never be enough to make me not feel like a failure. Christlikeness is a high standard. It is perfection. “Be perfect” is like a thing commanded in the New Testament.
“Well, ‘perfect’ there means ‘mature.’” Thanks for the Greek lesson. It’s a nice attempt to soften the demand. Mature then means perfection, so we’re still in the same place! “Be perfect as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” So, be as mature as God. That seems much softer!
It’s really easy to see imperfection. When I look at my church, the problems are always in the forefront. Progress is slow, and in many cases not seen right away, maybe not even for years.
My own struggle with sin and overcoming long embedded habits has been slow and probably at an indiscernible rate by outsiders. When the standard is perfection; it’s easy to feel like a failure.
My heart’s desire is for people to grow in Christ. I want nothing else for them. I do not know how to facilitate that beyond teaching and showing. A person really has to want to do it if it’s going to happen in them. You can lead a horse to water . . .
Pastoral Success to me looks like perfect sheep. I do my best to remain calm and patient with the imperfections, I know it’s a process, one I’m on myself. The Great Shepherd has us; my job is to lead people to Him.
The journey is frustrating. I don’t see how it could be anything other than that. It’s a noble goal and aspiration to travel toward it and to do what you can to help bring others along. In the end it will be worth it.
If you add even a single glimpse of Christ into this world, something is going right. Get some Christlikeness in your own life, get your family along the way, anything else is icing on the cake.
We aim for perfection. Expect to be frustrated. Also expect the glory that will be revealed in us! What a day it will be! Your labor is not in vain.