On any given day in my office, my to-do list and schedule range from blasé to bizarre. As is true in many jobs, the diversity and unpredictability of who stops by my office, who calls, what comes across my desk, and what suddenly crops up as urgent is pretty staggering. I get calls, emails, and drop-ins from people wanting to sell me stuff, from people wanting me to help sell their stuff, and from people who need prayer, counsel, encouragement, or biblical wisdom. I’m often called away from the office – sometimes without any advance notice – to hospital rooms, nursing homes, or the living room of a family in crisis. Our church staff is large and energetic – which is a privilege! – but often that means they require input, direction, and guidance (or that I need their input, direction, and guidance), and so we have meetings, some scheduled, some impromptu. Navigating all of these competing demands and priorities is something I’m growing into as a young pastor. And while it seems hectic and harried at times, I love every minute of it. Every bit of it is important; every bit of it is a joy.
None of it, however, is necessary. Perhaps I should say, none of it is essential. By that, I mean God could build our church without any of it. I could neglect all of my responsibilities as the leader of our staff, all of my responsibilities as a shepherd of our congregation, all of my opportunities to engage people in our community, and our church could still grow and flourish – by God’s grace. In truth, there is only one thing that I must do as a pastor, only one thing that is absolutely necessary and essential.
In his book The Church, Edmund Clowney describes that one thing:
In every task of the church, the ministry of the Word of God is central. It is the Word that calls us to worship, addresses us in worship, teaches us how to worship and enables us to praise God and to encourage one another. By the Word we are given life and nurtured to maturity in Christ: the Word is the sword of the Spirit to correct us and the bread of the Spirit to feed us. In the mission of the church, it is the Word of God that calls the nations to the Lord: in the teaching of the Word we make disciples of the nations. The growth of the church is the growth of the Word (Acts 6:7; 12:24; 19:20): where there is a famine of the Word, no expertise in business administration or group dynamics will build Christ’s church.
When you read this, pray that I would be faithful to the task of ministering God’s Word to our people. There is no better prayer to pray for our church.