Ex-pastors.com

A web site for pastors who are hurting, pastors who are thinking of quitting, and pastors who have quit the ministry.

frus∑tra∑tion n: the result of expectations exceeding reality.

 

The intention is to describe aspects of ministry that are not often recognized or presented that can provide a broader understanding of the dynamics of ministry to explain how and why this can be one of the most challenging jobs there is.

I set this web site up to be able to share my perspectives and offer counsel to those who have suffered the "slings and arrows of outrageous" ministry (to borrow from Shakespeare).

I am taking a personal approach to this ministry because I see one of the many problems that besiege Christianity today is the impoverishment of relationships. For that reason I wish to be available to any who feel that correspondence could be helpful.

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Pastoral Counseling

 

A pastor can find it difficult to counsel people because our society in general and the church in particular suffer from impoverished relationships. 100 years ago most people had as best friends their cousins and siblings. With the technology of transportation came the suburbs and a transient population. With a consumer society came general dissatisfaction and a 50% divorce rate. With Feminism came working mothers, smaller families and households that resembled lodging for roommates more than for traditional families.

For centuries Satan has been advancing collectivism (which he needs to leverage his influence over the world). At the Tower of Babble God indicated his disapproval of manís collective efforts. One result of Satanís success in this regard is the huge impact of worldliness on Christians. One might consider worldliness to be the religion of secularism (the worship of man in general and self in particular).

The bible contrasts walking in the flesh with walking by the Spirit. However, it can be helpful to cast this distinction in terms of selfishness and selflessness. Natural man is driven by self interest. The Greeks attempted to classify the various ways self interest could be pursued, Hedonism, Epicureanism, and Stoicism. In a practical sense a person will experience suffering or boredom. There can be brief periods of contentment (mostly as appetites have been satiated for the moment).

Christianity brought with it the opportunity to move past boredom into the realm of happiness. This was now achievable because of the work of the Holy Spirit that would aid a person in sublimating selfishness with the selflessness of love (1Cor 13:4-7).

As worldliness extends its reach into Christian lives and homes, selfishness is allowed greater control over peopleís lives. As the poison of selfishness increases pain in peopleís lives, the Pastor is supposed to be able to respond with solutions.

Many do not even seek pastoral counsel because the pastor is often seen as unsuited or unable to provide any useful help. The Corinthians were chided by Paul because they did not even have one person with sufficient wisdom to settle a dispute. It is interesting that Christians should be aware that James tells us that God offers wisdom to all that ask and Solomon exhorts his son to cry out for wisdom passionately, yet we as a group we might be seen as largely unwise, Sadly we may even come to substitute the wisdom of the world for godly wisdom.

It is sad that pastoral prominence is often based on intellect (which can result in pride) as wisdom is not only neglected but not even recognized. This is understandable as most did not recognize in Jesus a wisdom greater than Solomon. A lack of ability to discern wisdom may reflect too great a familiarity with worldly wisdom.

In a capsule, worldly wisdom is based on getting what you want. Satan used this to appeal to Eve (you shall not surely die, you shall be as gods). The superficiality of social media reduces our identities to a list of preferences. Dating web sites contain lists of likes and dislikes in a sort of narcissistic assumption that we will only fall in love with a mirror of ourselves.

The pastor attempting to counsel people who are so infused with worldly wisdom faces a great difficulty. In a world of selfishness, who wants to hear that they are selfish. The pastor may face the additional challenge of he himself having received no useful training in counseling, may have nothing to offer but general platitudes.