Let’s be frank – I’m a young pastor. I don’t really have a problem with that, and most really don’t either. Although, I often find myself telling people that I can’t do anything about my age until next year.
But I had this encouragement come across my desk the other day:
“I like listening to you because when I leave I don’t want to vomit like I do with most preachers. And your hermeneutics are pretty good.”
One of the lessons I’ve learned, and might even say is the more difficult tasks as a young pastor, is listening to the right voices. This isn’t a new reality, but one that pastors, no matter their age, struggle with on a variety of levels. There are those in our churches who simply gush with encouragement, praising everything that you do and say, and there are others that can’t find much good out of much.
With the compliments and the complaints – its important to listen. What becomes difficult, and the important lesson I’ve learned as a young pastor, is with all the competing voices, the ability for your mind to be swayed back and forth from encouraged to despair is tempting. It’s also dangerous.
As pastors, we must be steadfast to listen to One Voice – the Holy Spirit.
The best way I know how to do this is by way of the Bible. I want to ingest the word of God like I drink coffee (all day). I know that sounds “preacher-y” to tell you that the Bible is the best way to hear the Holy Spirit, but frankly, it is. Jesus prayed this way: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17). I pray this verse like this: “Father, set apart and purify those who follow Jesus towards and in the truth; what You have spoken and handed down to us in the BIble is without a doubt, truth, and we trust it, Amen.”
What’s my point – the lesson I’ve learned is not really anything new. As we follow Jesus, we’re to listen to the Holy Spirit… and the best way to hear Him is by His Word. So any time I received encouragement or critique, I filter it through the lens of the Bible – the Words of God – and each time, the Holy Spirit directs my ears to listen.
So Christian, are you listening?