The Downside of Professional Christianity

Episode 648: Full-time paid ministry is fraught with perils. Host Trevin Wax and Ed Welch, a Christian counselor with more than 30 years of experience, sort out the various challenges and offer valuable insight into how to meet them.

In This Episode, You’ll Discover:

  • How to be dutiful in pastoral ministry and still maintain your pursuit of holiness in Christ
  • Why your relationship to Christ in ministry can be negatively affected by shame
  • How to receive constructive criticism without it leading to a shame response
  • The way to distinguish between helpful, constructive criticism and negative criticism
  • How taking stock of your motives can help you maintain the fire and not lose your first love
  • The importance of keeping watch against vanity while building a church and ministry
  • How to maintain spiritual fervor and personal disciplines while working to feed and care for your flock
  • Two questions a pastor should always be ready to answer

Sharable Quotes (#NewChurches):

Chuck Swindoll says, “The scary thing about ministry is that you can learn to do it” – in the sense that you eventually become overfamiliar with holy things and begin to look at your ministry as a job, rather than a calling. @TrevinWax

Almost everybody that I know who’s in ministry starts out because they’ve got a sincere love of God and they really want to help people, yet we hear these stories of ministry leaders who have wandered off course. @TrevinWax

It’s not necessarily pastoral ministry that causes people to wander. People were wandering before they were in pastoral ministry and it expresses itself in pastoral ministry. As an educator in a seminary, I get evaluated twice a year, but a pastor gets evaluated every single week. @Ed Welch

Shame opens the entire Scripture to us in some ways. The entire storyline of Scripture is what will the Lord do for people who are unacceptable, not just before Him but before other people? @Ed Welch

If you’re not familiar with shame, you start to wonder do you really belong to Him? Because they’re the people he runs after, the ones who need him desperately. @Ed Welch

Pastors are going to be criticized – for decisions they make, for the way the way they preach or don’t preach. A lot of times young pastors may not be prepared for critical feedback, especially in those first years when they’re working a lot of things out. @TrevinWax

Criticism reminds us that the way we walk in the kingdom of Christ, with Christ, is a walk of dependence. @Ed Welch

Spurgeon was criticized by some people in his church and, the way the story goes, he seemed to be resilient in the midst of the criticism. How did he do that? His comment was, “They don’t know the half of it.” @Ed Welch

Get out in front of the criticism and speak our weaknesses, failures and sins to the Lord, because we know them better than the people around us. @Ed Welch

Young pastors could ask, “What is one thing that makes sense to my soul that I want to continue to grow in?” @Ed Welch

Once paid, full-time ministry becomes your livelihood, people will say, “This is what you’re you’re supposed to do because you’re paid to do it.” @TrevinWax

Once you are feeling competent in ministry, that is a danger sign, because it means we can get through the day on our own. There’s not this dependent calling out to Jesus. @Ed Welch

We should ask ourselves what are the things that happen in private that you don’t want anybody else to have access to and God himself doesn’t have access to it. @Ed Welch

There are quiet but dangerous places in our own soul. @Ed Welch

There can be a fine line between the motive to see the fame of the Lord spread and the enjoyment of whatever influence they have or platform their success might give them. @TrevinWax

The human heart is a messy thing. Whether we see it or not, a fear of crushing failure always feels like it’s nearby. You’re going to find vanity on one hand and this sense of worthlessness on the other. Both of them have their own dangers. @Ed Welch

Could you imagine saying to your church leaders, “Would you pray for me? I don’t want to live out of vanity and I don’t want to live out of being crushed by failure.” @Ed Welch

For a church planter, Sunday is relentless. The pace of public teaching means having to be in the Word of God in order to feed the flock. But you can be in the Word and actually be applying the Word to yourself less. @TrevinWax

Their devotional life gets swallowed up by their teaching ministry. The water’s passing through you, but you’re not really getting the nutrients you need as a leader. @TrevinWax

A standing item on the leadership’s agenda should be the pastor speaking about his own soul and asking for prayer from the elders. @Ed Welch

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Published March 10, 2022

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