“So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” I Thessalonians 2:8
I came across this verse in my daily Bible reading the other day, and I found it to be an answer to prayer. I became the pastor of Calvary Chapel of Ark City a couple of years ago, and recently I have been realizing that I am still not totally sure what all that entails.
Obviously there are some things that just make sense, but I constantly find myself wondering if I am really doing enough as a pastor and what that even looks like. I have been praying that the Lord will show me what it looks like to be a shepherd of the flock, so when I read these words it made total sense.
First, impart the gospel, give out the word of God. That, of course, is what makes sense for a pastor to do. I love the Lord, I love his word, and I love teaching his word.
The next part is the challenge: Give out your life. That is what pastoral ministry looks like, sharing my life with the flock that God has given me. Why? Because I love them. That is what God is continuing to call me to do, to give my life. To love with all of my heart, to share the great victories and the deep hurts, and to serve wholeheartedly. It is so true that people will care about the words you say if they see the love in your life.
May I also say this calling does not stop in the pulpit. God is calling his people to do the same thing. Give out the truth, and with the truth, give out your life. The good, the bad and the ugly. Sincerity creates the most captive audience.
Ryan Nichols is the pastor of Calvary Chapel in Arkansas City.