1 John 4:10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sin.
As a practitioner of the Gospel in pastoral ministry there is an essential rule that I have learned. “What begins in love will probably end there”. Sounds simply, right? It’s not. One of the most forgotten ingredients in methods, programs and systems is love.
For many folks this whole topic might feel “liberal light” or cliche but hear me out. God has won his elect with love not propositions, programs and good arguments. Though both of those have their place pastors should be careful not to buy into a temptation to allow the popular theological or doctrinal topic of the day to be unhinged from love. A well asserted proposition, solid argument or executed program outside of the context of the loving kindness of God as seen in Jesus will only push a seed deeper into infertile soil. We have been mysteriously won to the Father by the love of His Son. Here are four situations I face as a pastor that I have found the “What begins in love will probably end there” rule to be absolutely essential to God being glorified.
1. Counseling: I have found one can never learn enough about counseling theories and best practices to cover for love. If the person you are listening to gets the hint that your methods are not saturated in love the result are usually not good for anyone. Love covers an abundance of ignorance in counseling situations as a pastor.
2. Opposition: Pastors will always have opposition. Its easy to treat the “critical mass” with love and toss vacant prayers of ill will at your oppressors (Hey, David did! So it’s Biblical!). You do not have to like your opposition but you are commanded to love them. People in your congregation will side with love even if they disagree with you concerning the polarizing political situations your adversaries will try to wrangle you into. Though it might be good to assert your position or opinion in the face of the Sandballots and Tobiahs let the love of Christ be where it ought to be when it ought to be there.
3. Home: Your children and wife might not remember all of the things you say but they will remember how you made them feel when you said them. I can remember times that I have said things to those closest to me that very well may have been true but the way I said it made them feel stupid. It breaks my heart but all they may remember is that I thought or made them feel that they were stupid. Love does not leave others feeling stupid.
4. Board Meetings: Board meetings can easily become places of just business. As a pastor let your one ambition be to keep an awareness of Christ’s presence at these meetings. Keep one chair empty every meeting as a reminder of His presence.
What would you add to my list?