Jimmy Scroggins said he’s had conversations with several pastors lately who say that as soon as they can create an exit ramp to transition out of the ministry, they’re going to leave.
It’s just too hard. Too divided. Too exhausting.
So in his message to the Alabama Baptist Pastors Conference on Nov. 16, he encouraged pastors that the churches Paul invested in also faced problems both inside and outside the church.
“These kinds of things could make you cynical as a pastor or as a leader, or you could do what Paul is teaching us to do here — get some encouragement from Jesus,” said Scroggins, preaching from Philippians 2:1-11.
“Choose to love and serve and live in harmony with the people in your church.”
Scroggins, lead pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Florida, suggested six ways to make that happen.
- Lead through love.
“Our churches should be little oases of love and harmony in the middle of a world that feels like it’s tearing itself apart,” Scroggins said. “Because of Jesus, we can’t let that divide us. We can’t let skin color, socioeconomic status, politics or COVID-19 divide us.”
The Church has to hold together and love each other, he said. “We can and we must, because Jesus shows us how to love. Pastors, we have to model this kind of affection.”
- Make your church into a happy family.
Paul set a great example for the Church by using “brother” and “sister” language in his letters, Scroggins said. “That’s not just country-fried Christianese; that’s Bible stuff. We’re brothers and sisters, because we share the same Father.”
There’s still a lot for the family to be happy about, he said — people are still getting saved and baptized, and the gospel is still the power of God unto salvation.
- Love people for the best things about them.
“Cover your brothers’ weaknesses and highlight their strengths,” he said. “It doesn’t mean there’s not accountability, but the goal of accountability is reconciliation and restoration. If we love people for the best things about them, we will be a blessing to the brethren.”
Pastors should set the kind of tone in their church that Paul sets in his letter to the Philippians, Scroggins said.
- Remember who owns the church.
A pastor is a temporary steward of his church’s ministry, Scroggins said.
“Jesus started the Church, and Jesus will bring the Church home,” he said. “Many of us could do with a thorough emptying of ourselves.”
- Release expectations of personal honor.
As a pastor, your goal is to finish like Paul — not with a focus on your own dignity, but with the goal of being poured out like a drink offering for the good of the church and the gospel in the world.
If you serve as a pastor, you “may just get to be like Jesus — emptied, serving, humbled, dead,” or “like Paul — exhausted, poured out, imprisoned, marginalized.”
And that’s OK, Scroggins said, because for believers, the future is secure.
- Remember that Jesus is the hero of the story.
“It’s hard for a pastor to lead his church toward unity and affection and love and serving if the pastor thinks that he’s the hero of the church’s story,” Scroggins said. “When we get weary, we think of Jesus and what He gave up for us. If we’ll just get over ourselves and get out of the way and put the interests of others before ourselves, then our churches can be oases of equality and love and inclusion, service, unity and harmony. And that’s what the world is longing to see.”
The conference — an all-virtual, cost-free conference that you can watch from your home or office at your own pace — is still available at albaptistpc.com/virtual-conference.
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