Amid shrinking seminary classes and pulpit vacancies, one might ask whether the ministry today is vastly different than it was in years past.
It is true that today’s parish is “not your father’s Oldsmobile.” The breakdown of the family, the normalization of things once regarded as shameful, the casual rejection of the Bible as God’s own word, the brainwashing of countless consciences at the Baal-like altar of TV and social media – all of these have infected congregations and clergy alike.
But it bears remembering that the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament, and preachers at many times since then, have faced vicious attacks on God’s word, bloody persecutions, and “stress” that surpasses anything most of us face today.
Pointing pastors back to the same word of God they offer their people, a fellow named Floyd Doud Shafer once wrote a preacher’s job description:
“Fling him into his office, tear the ‘Office’ sign from the door and nail on the sign: ‘STUDY.’ Take him off the mailing lists, lock him up with his books…and his Bible. Slam him down on his knees before Scripture texts, broken hearts, the flippant lives of a superficial flock and a Holy God. Force him to be the one man in our surfeited communities who knows something about God. Shut his garrulous mouth forever spouting ‘remarks’ and stop his tongue always tripping lightly over everything non-essential. Require him to have something to say before he dare break silence. Bend his knees in the lonesome valley, fire him from the PTA, and cancel his country-club membership. Make him change his pious posturing for a humble walk with God and man. Compel him to spend and be spent for the glory of his Lord and ours!” By and large, that’s not a bad job description.