THE CHURCH must be prophetic or it will be pathetic.

The Rev. Cecil Murray, quoted in the Chicago Tribune.

THE CHURCH'S lack of clarity about its mission results in lack of clarity related to the role of its clergy. Lack of clarity about expectations means that no matter what they do, pastors come under attack for not doing something quite different.

Howard Rice, The Pastor as Spiritual Guide

WHAT MUST DIE in every pastor is the subconscious desire to please people. What must not die is the will to love. There's the risk.

David Hansen, The Art of Pastoring

ONE OF THE THINGS I have tried to be clear about in ministry is distinguishing between "good news" and "good advice." We really are to be about the proclamation of "good news—the gospel."

John Esau, "Ten Things to Know about Pastoral Ministry Before You Start"

I HAD COME INTO the parish seeing its great potential as a learning center, a kind of mini-university in which I was the resident professor. And then one day, in a kind of shock of recognition, I saw that it was in fact a worship center… . Out of that recognition a conviction grew: that my primary educational task as pastor was to teach people to pray.

Eugene H. Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor

PERHAPS the most central characteristic of authentic leadership is the relinquishing of the impulse to dominate others.

David Cooper, Psychiatry and Anti-Psychiatry

WHILE ALL CHRISTIANS need nurture and sustenance, the active Christian leader who encounters spiritual and emotional stress daily has special, urgent needs. If the shepherd is not fed along with the sheep, that inner hunger and fatigue, those unhealed hurts, can cause the shepherd to do great, unconscious harm to those within his or her care.

Flora Slosson Wuellner, Feed My Shepherds: Spiritual Healing and Renewal for Those in Christian Leadership

NO IS A COMPLETE SENTENCE. Believe me, we do not need hassled, bitter ministers. We don't want you to talk the talk about this being the day the Lord hath made and that we should rejoice and savor its beauty and poignancy when secretly you're tearing around like a white rabbit; we need you to walk the walk. And we need you to walk a little more slowly.

Anne Lamott to a graduating seminary class, quoted in Context

THE IDEAL MINISTER must love and understand people, but must know and love still more the will and word of God.

P. T. Forsyth, "The Ideal Ministry"

Related Elsewhere

For more reflections on ministry, see Christianity Today's Missions and Ministry area, as well as sister publication Leadership Journal.

Article continues below

Past Reflections columns include:

Discerning God's Will (Oct. 6, 2003)
Work and Vocation (Sept. 17, 2003)
Bumper Sticker Theology (July 30, 2003)
Songs from the Soul (July 8, 2003)
Walk Humbly (May 28, 2003)
Mercy (May 8, 2004)
Cross and Resurrection (April 16, 2003)
Justice (March 18, 2003)
Sex, Love, and Marriage (Feb. 14, 2003)
Mountaintop Spirituality (January 23, 2003)
Word Made Flesh (December 20, 2002)
Desert Springs (November 25, 2002)
Matters of the Mind (October 16, 2002)
Bumper stickers (August 6, 2002)
Preaching (July 18, 2002)
Prayer (June 24, 2002)
Suffering and Grief (May 20, 2002)
Writers and Words (April 18, 2002)
Crucifixion (March 28, 2002)
God's Mission (February 13, 2002)
On Enemies (January 8, 2002)
Life After Christmas (December 26, 2001)
Love & Marriage (November 13, 2001)
The Word of God (October 22, 2001)
Leadership (October 11, 2001)
Suffering (September 13, 2001)
Change (August 14, 2001)
Living Tradition (July 18, 2001)
Sacred Spaces (June 11, 2001)
Friendship (May 17, 2001)

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.