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A few years back, LCMS pastors were gathered into a series of focus groups and asked an intentionally neutral question, “What’s it like to be a pastor in the LCMS these days?” Thirty percent of those in the groups found nothing positive to say. They only registered their complaints. A small minority spoke only of the joys of ministry; the rest were mixed.
I firmly believe that those pastors and educators who do not regularly experience joy in their ministry will not last, and even worse, will not represent the gospel of Christ well.
Joy is a gift of the Spirit, an indicator of a healthy, balanced life in ministry and our greatest encouragement to continue on in the face of hardships.
Today, I’ll offer two quotes that have been a great blessing to me in recent days. The first comes from Dr. Walther.In his twenty-seventh evening lecture on The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel, C.F.W. Walther said, “Yea, I am forced to say that, if the holy angels, who have been confirmed in eternal bliss, were capable of envy, they would, even in their state of celestial glory, unquestionably envy every teacher of the Gospel. For all that is recorded concerning them in Holy Scripture does not equal the greatness of the office of teachers and preachers, in which men become helpers in the task of bringing fallen creatures back to their Creator.
“Without doubt these rescued people will forever and ever thank those by whose ministry they were saved from perdition and brought back into life everlasting. They are, of all people, most despised and even hated by the world. Nevertheless their estate and office is the most glorious of all.”
Imagine that: the angels of God jealous of us! That nothing recorded about the angels in scripture matches the privilege and joy we have of sharing the Redeemer’s love! That those who hear us proclaim salvation in Christ in the classroom or from the pulpit will offer thanks for eternity for our simply following this call! Cause for joy.
John Piper offered a definition of joy that I’ve found helpful. In a recent podcast, he said, “Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul produced by the Holy Spirit as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and in the world.”
I’d love to hear what you think of this definition and to hear your favorite definition of joy.
Most of all, I’d love to hear of the joy you are experiencing in your ministry. God grant you the gift of joy in this busy and truly holy season!
Thanks for reading.
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