Pastoral ministry is a wonderful place to be lazy

When interviewing pastoral candidates, churches should look for signs that the candidate is a workaholic.  They should also be wary of laziness.

If you want to be a workaholic, there is no better place than pastoral ministry. You can justify long hours to your spouse by pointing to the stakes of eternity. There are always ministry needs.

But just as there is no better career than the pastorate to be workaholic, pastoral ministry also offers a wonderful opportunity for laziness. Keep people guessing about what you do.  Surf the net looking for illustrations.  While you’re at it, steal a few sermons off the Internet and walk around looking tired.  You’ll make the excuse making sluggard of Proverbs 26:13 look like a worker ant.

I was reminded of this point today when reading Kevin DeYoung’s blog:

A couple weeks ago I urged churches to give their pastors adequate vacation time. Not at all opposed to that piece of advice, I now want to urge pastors (and everybody else for that matter) to work extremely hard. Both are true: God wired us for rest and he made us to work.

Ministry is hard work and those engaged in it (whether vocationally or not) should work at it hard. Paul “worked harder than any of them,” though he quickly added, “not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Cor. 15:10). And for all the dead tired missionaries, pastors, moms, dads. teachers, chaplains, elders, and deacons out there–to all who in some measure care for the lives of others–let us say with the Apostle, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls” (2 Cor. 12:15). Every Christian serves, and every Christian who serves well works hard to serve.

Like John Calvin.

I’ve been slowly working my way through Bruce Gordon’s masterful biography of the Genevan Reformer (Yale 2009). Recently I underlined this passage:

And here was a formula that would serve Calvin well throughout his time in the city: extremely hard work on his part combined with . . .

Read the rest here of Kevin’s post here.

If your church is looking for a pastor, ask probing questions designed to detect either extreme.  It’s easy for pastors to not get rest.  Yet, pastoral ministry offers a wonderful cover for laziness.

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