For more reading on long-term faithfulness in ministry with practical wisdom from veteran pastors, see Faithful Endurance: The Joy of Shepherding People for a Lifetime from The Gospel Coalition.
Tony Merida offers counsel to young ministers on how they should prepare to faithfully endure in ministry by developing a theology of suffering and by understanding our role as wounded healers.
Below is a lightly edited transcript of the video above. Before quoting, please check the video to ensure accuracy.
The first thing I would just say is that every minister should have a good theology of suffering. And it’s important if you’re a seminary student that you’re developing a theology of suffering right now, don’t wait until later. The Bible says, don’t be surprised by suffering and trials, realize that they are sanctifying, they make us pray, they cause us to be dependent on God, and they are temporary. One of the great hopes of Romans 8 is that suffering gives way to glory. And so as a Christian we have to take the long view when it comes to suffering.
On a pastoral level, I think it’s important for guys to get the right kind of identity when it comes to being a pastor. We’re not rock stars, we’re not politicians; we are wounded healers. We are pastors who ourselves have been wounded and have also wounded other people. And yet we’re being called to heal people.
We’re not rock stars, we’re not politicians; we are wounded healers.
Every week a pastor experiences both the highs and the lows of life. Sometimes you can experience it in the same day. You can have a counseling session at 9 o’clock that’s a crisis counseling, it could be trauma. At 10 o’clock it could be someone who just became a Christian and wants to know how to grow in their faith. We have a very strange profession that leaves us conflicted in many ways. And I want to tell pastors that’s normal.
We will experience a great range of emotions but through it all, 2 Corinthians 6 says that as Paul says, “We are sorrowful yet always rejoicing.” Underneath all of our sorrow—and you will experience sorrow—there can be a well of joy from which to drink. And that is the gospel. And that’s where you must return all the time.
Underneath all of our sorrow—and you will experience sorrow—there can be a well of joy from which to drink. And that is the gospel.
Just keep drinking from the well of the gospel in seasons of suffering. You’ll be surprised by it. You’ll begin to realize that Jesus is making you more like him through it. It’s quite normal to have these highs and lows, but through it all we can rejoice in the Lord because our sins are forgiven and because our suffering right now is short in light of eternity.