I wish change was easy. Don’t you? I wish that I could demolish and then rebuild the back deck at my house without the pain of labor or the expense of material. I wish my kids would learn from the mistakes of others and not have to experience the pain of personal sin, struggle, and poor choices. I wish that I could just one day wake up and decided to be holy and then live the rest of my life free from temptation and struggle.
But change is not easy is it. Whether we are talking about demolition and new construction, maturity and growing up, or holiness and consecration, change always has an associated cost package and it is nearly always painful.
During my years of pastoral ministry I have noticed that change is very often a hard won and slow process. It is also never achieved without some level of pain. Generally, until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain moving forward change will not happen.
This is why pastoring people toward spiritual formation is so difficult because it necessarily entails helping them confront wrong patterns in their lives. My friend and ministry colleague Chaplain JoAnn Swart often says that effective pastoral ministry comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. We can only do this when we invite and empower God’s people to be honest about their pain, sin, and short-comings.
But we must not stop, nor should we allow God’s people to stop with simple acknowledgment of need. If we, and those we serve, are to be formed spiritually we must embrace the pain necessary to move on from where they are. We have all been in situations and seasons of ministry when we were forced to lovingly afflict the comfortable as we confronted sin, or preached hard truths
Over the next several weeks I want to talk about the intersection between Pastoral Ministry and Spiritual formation. I want us to investigate what it means to be formed spiritual and honestly assess our roll in God’s plan to form his church into his image. While the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink,” is certainly true. It is also true that you can feed that same horse salt on the way to the watering hole.
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