A big God for feeble pastors

by Ronjour Locke, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018

It might be surprising to know that many pastors regularly struggle with feelings of inadequacy. Many assume that pastors only work a half day each week; why would they struggle with inadequacy over that?

They do not notice, however, the hours of sermon preparation, the hours of prayer, the hours of counseling and visitation, the hours of planning, the hours of leadership development, the hours of discipling, and the hours spent tending to his marriage and family. And every minute is usually in the shadow of some other pastor who’s seemingly doing things better than he is, with a bigger congregation, a bigger budget and a bigger social media platform.

With expectations rising higher and higher, it shouldn’t be a surprise that pastors feel completely inadequate for ministry. Add to that their constant struggle with personal sin, the health of their local churches, and the lostness in their neighborhoods, and you’d understand why depression rates and resignations among pastors keep climbing.

However, there is good news for you, pastor: Our big, almighty God is able to equip even the puniest, most inadequate pastor to do great things for His name’s sake. We find one such man, and his story in the book of Judges.

The situation was bleak in Israel. Their idolatry once again led to their defeat, this time at the hands of the Midianites. The Midianites, along with the Amalekites and other Eastern nations, regularly stole the people’s crops. The damage was so bad that the land looked like it had been hit by a locust plague in its aftermath. The Israelites couldn’t even live off of the remaining food.

Who would the Lord call to deliver them? He called a man named Gideon, the son of Ophrah. Several features make this a strange choice.

First, in Judges 6:11 when the angel of the Lord met Gideon, he was beating out wheat in a winepress, an act not exactly flowing with confidence.

Second, he doubted God’s presence in Judges 6:13; for Gideon, it just didn’t look like He was going to redeem them like He did their fathers in the exodus.

Third, his pedigree was suspect. “Please, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Look, my family is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s family” (Judges 6:15 CSB).

How could Gideon, of all people, deliver Israel? How could you, pastor, fulfill your ministry with all of your inadequacies? The Lord gives three assurances:

1. You have God’s presence.
“The Lord is with you… But I will be with you” (Judges 6:12, 16 CSB).

2. You have God’s power.
“Valiant warrior… Go in the strength you have… You will strike down Midian as if it were one man” (Judges 6:12, 14, 16 CSB).

3. You have God’s peace.
“But the LORD said to him, ‘Peace to you. Don’t be afraid, for you will not die.’ So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace” (Judges 6:23 CSB).

Pastor, as you consider your ministry, you also have God’s presence, as our Lord Jesus promised to be with you to the end of the age. You have His power, as you have the Holy Spirit within you. And you also have His peace, for the Father has forever reconciled you to Himself through His Son. The Almighty has well-equipped you to the great task of shepherding His flock. If you feel inadequate and puny, be encouraged in the Lord, for He who calls you is faithful.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ronjour Locke serves as an instructor of preaching and urban ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. He is married to Anne, and they have four wonderful children.