Becoming spiritually successful in ministry means becoming a spiritual shepherd.
… You anoint my head with oil …
He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.
The search for becoming a successful minister in a successful ministry appears to be a fundamental task to all ministerial fields of study. The answer to that quest is allusive in that the remedy changes with the symptoms. The body of Christ appears to go through phases where the weakness in the church changes. The problem with the ministry, during that phase, is prognosticated and the diagnosis is proclaimed. Then an antidote is developed and administered across the country like a vaccine. The church, as it has for generations, works its way through its weakness to renew its strength. The next phase for the church arrives and the process is repeated. In this manner, the role of ministry and the focus of the pastoral task changes with each phase. The search for being spiritually successful can become an enigma in this form of evolutionary ministerial development. The quest still exists, “how do I become a spiritually successful minister?”
The role of the minister is compared to that of the shepherd throughout the scriptures.
Jesus the True: Foretold, Gen. 49:24; Isa. 40:11; Ezek. 34:23; 37:24. The chief, 1 Pet. 5:4. The good, John 10:11, 14. The great, Mic. 5:4; Heb. 13:20. His sheep he knows, John 10:14, 27. He calls, John 10:3. He gathers, Isa. 40:11; John 10:16. He guides, Psa. 23:3; John 10:3, 4. He feeds, Psa. 23:1, 2; John 10:9. He cherishes tenderly, Isa. 40:11. He protects and preserves, Jer. 31:10; Ezek. 34:10; Zech. 9:16; John 10:28. He laid down his life for, Zech. 13:7; Matt. 26:31; John 10:11, 15; Acts 20:28. He gives eternal life to, John 10:28. Typified: David, 1 Sam. 16:11.
One who cares for flocks, Gen. 31:38–40; Psa. 78:52, 53; Jer. 31:10; Amos 3:12; Luke 2:8. David the, defends his flock against a lion and a bear, 1 Sam. 17:34, 35. Causes the flock to rest, Psa. 23:2; Song 1:7; Jer. 33:12. Numbers the flock, Lev. 27:32; Jer. 33:13. Knows his flock by name, John 10:3–5. Keeps the sheep and goats apart, Matt. 25:32. Waters the flocks, Gen. 29:2–10. Keeps the flocks in folds, Num. 32:16; 1 Sam. 24:3; 2 Sam. 7:8; John 10:1. Watch towers of, 2 Chr. 26:10; Mic. 4:8. Dogs of, Job 30:1. Was an abomination to the Egyptians, Gen. 46:34. Angels appeared to, Luke 2:8–20. From this biblical analogy the role of the shepherd, and thus the minister, can be depicted into four main categories: one who guides or gives direction, one who enables growth through feeding and watering, one who protects the flock from without and within, and one who helps mend the wounds of the flock or congregation. The ministerial task, however allusive it may appear, should be contextually extrapolated from these fundamental responsibilities. My struggle in developing a biblical model of a pastor has been in establishing a relationship that will facilitate the process of mending wounds. A part of the ministerial role is to be able to help the healing process of the congregation. My goal is to develop a healthy relationship where my congregation can say, “I need you to help heal my wounds. I know the process will hurt me, but I trust you.”
The problems that ministers face on a regular basis usually distract them or are a hindrance to their efforts in fulfilling the four main roles of a pastor. The majority of the problems affect the relationship between pastor and congregation. Some of the problems can be avoided if there are established healthy relationships. Others are unavoidable, but could have a healthy outcome if there is a healthy relationship. I believe in every instance there is the possibility not only to damage the relationship further, but also to strengthen the relationship through the tension of the conflict. Thus the quest for establishing a biblical model for successful pastoral ministry becomes entwined with relationships development.