I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that or at least a statement like that from accomplished preachers. I just recently for example read of a pastor who doesn’t meet with people from his church for counseling because those kinds of meetings “drain” him.
Now, I’d be the first to tell you that as a pastor you don’t have all the gifts and you don't have to have all the gifts. I look at myself and the reality is, I have very few gifts. I mean, I have some gifts, they are gifts so I’m not proud of them, still I know God has gifted me in a few areas but I definitely am not overflowing with giftedness.
And that’s o.k.
I don’t have to be great at everything. In fact, God has designed the church to be like that. There’s only one Jesus. And the rest of us, we need help. We’re to help each other out.
So I’m not saying that every pastor has to be equally gifted behind the pulpit and sitting down one on one. I’m guessing that there are some pastors who are more gifted behind the pulpit and others who are more gifted one on one. And I’m not even saying that every pastor has to spend equal amounts of time counseling people one on one. I’m guessing that there are situations where a pastor is serving in a team and would be wise to spread the ministry out and focus on his areas of strength.
But, I am talking about using that as an excuse for not getting involved in individual people’s lives. I’m convinced that saying that is at the very least a pretty big mistake and that probably it would be better to say that it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the work God has called a pastor to.
To be a pastor is not simply to be a communicator.
It’s to be a pastor. A shepherd.
Coming from where I come from I’ve heard Paul’s admonition to Timothy so many times, “Preach the Word!” And I amen it. But let’s also remember Paul’s example. “You yourselves know how I lived among you … how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house…”
Obviously there’s no way one pastor can do all the work of counseling in a local church. Obviously there are going to be men who are more gifted and more equipped to do that. Obviously there’s the need to focus. I minister in a smaller church and I often feel overwhelmed. I look at what I’m doing and I see so many places I need to improve it honestly wears me out. I can’t imagine the effort it would take to lead and preach in a church much larger.
But still please, I'm begging you, don’t casually, almost flippantly shrug your shoulders and say I don’t do counseling. For one thing it sets a bad example. For another, I’m honestly not sure how that is much different than saying, I just don’t get involved with people who are hurting and I just don't have the skills to really help someone think through biblical principles and how they apply to what’s happening in their life.
And look, if that is what is being said, if I’m saying I don’t have the skills to do that, or at least if I’m saying I'm not willing to work at becoming better at doing that with individuals, then how is my preaching going to be effective?
What are you doing up there on Sunday mornings? You are trying to glorify God yes, but you are also trying to help people change. And how could I possibly think that I could help two thousand people change if I can’t really help one? Or if I am not willing to exert the energy to do that?
Doesn’t it seem like the truth is if I can’t or won’t get involved with one person and help them think through how the Scripture applies to their life that my preaching to more people most likely will just be platitudes and religious cliches?
How could it be anything other than that?