It has been remarked that I'm fond of creating lists. Like —
I could list out a bunch of reasons why that is true (see what I did there?)... but, instead, let's just make one more!
You know I'm not overfond of literary overwordiness, so I'll let the list expound itself. Ahem:
- Pastor, if you see a largely empty auditorium and don't care, then outreach and effectiveness can't matter much to you (pace Matt. 28:18-20). But if you care too much, it will crush you...making you worthless for outreach, and ineffective!
- Pastor, if you preach the Gospel with all the passion and power that you can plead down from Heaven, and yet not a single soul responds, and you don't care...then your faith and your ardor may be defective. But if you care too much, it will crush you, and end you as a pastor.
- Pastor, if you preach all corners and angles of the Word of God to your congregation, knowing that they would change visibly (some of them dramatically so) if they took it to heart — and then you don't care or hardly notice when nothing whatever seems to happen in lives needing change, then you aren't much of a shepherd (Prov. 27:23; Ezek. 34). But if you care too much, it will crush you, and you will either leave the pastorate, or start crafting sermons that are bitter and petulant, or so edgeless and general that looking for response is no longer a painful issue.
- Pastor, if you never lay out specific applications of how to show love for God or practice the priesthood of the believer or live out the doctrine of the church (e.g. church membership, church involvement, coming on-time so the whole assembly can start together, etc.), you may be playing it safe to protect yourself from disappointment or hostility, and you're failing to provoke your folks to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24). But if you do get specific... you risk disappointment (in yourself) and hostility (in your hearers)!
- Pastor, if you care too much what folks think of you, and modify your message and ministry to make sure you stay popular, you're no servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4). But if you don't care at all about others, shut out their feelings and cares and needs and failings, and never consider the impact of your words or actions — you're just a loveless, self-absorbed jerk (Matt. 7:12; 1 Cor. 10:33; 13:4-8a).
But not to care is to fail of our calling just as surely. There is no escaping this life of joy-and-pain without at the same time fleeing from our pastoral call.
So we must care, we must care constantly and deeply... but we must not care too much!
So, there you go! On "three," now: One... two...