The other day I had a check up with my doctor. The doctor did the routine of checking on the health and asking for certain types of tests to be done to be able to assess how I am doing physically. You can check your weight, blood pressure, blood tests and other body factors to see where you are on the health meter.But what about as a pastor? Are you a healthy pastor? How does one check? There are two different ways pastors can be healthy. First, as Paul told Timothy that physical training is of some value (1 Timothy 4:8) . Last week I wrote a blog regarding the physical health of the pastor here. It is important for pastors to be mindful of their physical well-being. May we learn from Robert Murray M’Cheyne who was a preacher in Scotland and whom outlined for his congregation and for us today a way to read through the Bible in a year died at the age of twenty-nine from Typhus. It has been told that on his deathbed he said,
“God gave me a message and a horse. I have killed the horse. Oh, what shall I do with the message?”
The qualifications to be a pastor can be found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. These qualifications do more with the integrity of the person than they do gifting of the person. As important it is for the pastor to check their physical health, it is very important for the pastor to check his spiritual health, their integrity. Though physical health can be damaging for the longevity of the pastor, if his spiritual health is not checked there can be monumental damages for the pastor and the congregation.
Here are some questions a pastor needs to ask himself:
1) Have I lost Awe of God?
When you are so busy and you can’t look up to wonder of God’s creation, have you lost the awe of God? When you are not amazed at the fact that you are loved, even at your worst (Romans 5:8), have you lost the awe of God? As a pastor you stop seeing the privilege and responsibility of shepherding God’s flock, have you lost Where and how does this happen?
First and foremost if I have lost sight of who God is and who I am in light of who He is, then downfall will take place. Ministry will become drudgery. It will be about tasks to do without a heart to serve in awe of who God is. It will become a job without joy! The joy of serving is replaced with obligation of serving. With the joy of His word can become a list of to do’s and font’s of morality. The Gospel becomes self-serving and not refreshing.
How to correct this? I realize that when I have the proper view of who God is, then I am motivated to serve Him. I see that I am not worthy, that who am I that He would be mindful of me (Psalm 8:4). I realize that God is steadfast in his love for me and bestows his grace to me, though I do not deserve it.
I realize that I need to stop, and actually just to spend time with the Lord in quietness. I realize that I have a lot of noise going around me that distracts me and I can easily lose awe of God.
2) Have I lost the Urgency with the Gospel
When a pastor looses his passion to reach the lost and urgency with preaching the Gospel, his spiritual health needs to be looked at. Loosing a since of urgency happens when one looses awe of God.
The Apostle Paul encouraged the Ephesian church to make the most of the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16). He wasn’t making a plea to them to be successful in their jobs or to live life to the fullest. He was encouraging the live with urgency with the Gospel. There is a set amount of time that each of us has on this earth and we want to live with urgency knowing that time is of the essence.
There is conviction that comes with this. As a pastor I must guard and ask myself if I am living urgently in light of the Gospel? On paper I would agree, but does this show in my conversations with others? Does it show based on my decisions that I make? Does it show with how I do ministry? There is a danger that can come and that is turning on autopilot with ministry. It may not even be noticeable at first. You can get busy and things can just continue happening. You may not be urgently praying for the flock. You may just be distracted with secondary matters. Regardless this a danger to be aware of.
I am so thankful for the times that I have been able to seek God and his forgiveness when I wasn’t living urgently with the Gospel (1 John 1:9). I am so thankful for his grace which allows me to go forward in ministry. I am thankful that I can receive a fresh perspective each morning and rest in God’s strength to move forward. Ministry can be tiring and hard. It can be overwhelming at moments. I am reminded that my end has been set, there is a time my lungs will stop breathing and my heart will stop pumping. May I live urgently with the Gospel and make the most of the time God has given me knowing that there are lost people out there that I am called to share the Gospel with.
3) Have I Stopped Confessing Sin?
At my check up, the doctor was asking me questions. Questions not just about my eating habits, but also my physical activity habits. He asked what do I eat? How often do I eat those types of foods? How often do I go to the gym? How often am I sitting? How am I sleeping? I realized that these questions were good because the doctor wanted to be able to help diagnose what is wrong with me.
In the same way there are questions we need to ask ourselves about our spiritual health. Though having a checklist of what to do and not do is not how we are saved, it should give us an idea of our spiritual health. One of those questions we need to ask would be, “Have I stopped confessing my sin to God?”
Why is this important to be a healthy pastor? Because it shows that we are willing to come before God with full transparency. We should be asking God to help reveal areas of sin that we are blind to. More and more, we should want our flesh to be exposed before the grace of God, knowing that because of Christ and what He has done on our behalf makes us righteous before God (Galatians 2:16). Confessing our sin shows the dependency we have on God.
There are other questions pastor need and should themselves to check their spiritual health such as reading the Bible, prayer life, accountability with others, and how one spends their time but I believe these three are the base for these other questions. Are you a healthy pastor?