Every church leader (preachers, elders, deacons, et al) are concerned (or should be) about making a difference in the life of their flock, which God has entrusted to them. However, we are all prone to discouragement. We are tempted to feel that in the end it makes little difference. It’s especially hard when we do not see the “seed” we sow taking root and growing among the flock.
So, should we be concerned?
The answer is of course an emphatic, “YES!” But we don’t have to give in to the temptation of discouragement, because that is what it is—a temptation.
We can fight that temptation by remembering that it’s not our primary responsibility that the seed sowed makes a difference. That responsibility belongs to God. Has he not asserted that the word that goes out from his mouth shall not return empty to Him? “It shall”, He declares, “accomplish that which [He] purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which [He] I sent it.” (See Isaiah 55:11)
What should be our concern?
Our concern should simply be to stay faithful, earnest and diligent about teaching and preaching the word. From the Apostle Paul’s “pastoral letters” I see three key duties to be concerned with.
First, we are to do our best to “present” ourselves to God “as one approved” and to give ourselves to “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). This, I would submit, is hard—very hard—work. To be approved by God and to rightly handle the word require constant devotion to piety and study, not easy tasks for time-starved leaders.
Second, as an “overseer” we must give ourselves to raising our ability to teach. This “able to teach” ability is a biblical qualification necessary of a church leader (see 1 Tim 3:2).
Third, we must constantly be alert to guard against unsound doctrine. This is another injunction given by the Apostle Paul to another young pastoral protégé. (See Tit 2:1)
In the final analysis, I am convinced that we will succeed in fighting off discouragement by constantly continuing to “delight in the law of God” in our inner being (Rom 7:22).
Pastor Robert Chew