This is the ninth post in a series discussing a pastor’s personal involvement with international missions. While it is geared specifically to senior pastors, I believe that the principles apply to all leaders in the church. If you would like to start from the beginning and get a feel for the main thesis of the series, click here.
Because God will use it to shape you.
Ok pastor, let’s walk through a scene you’ve seen a hundred times.
You’re invited over to someone’s house for a meal, you spend a little bit of time in conversation as the food is prepared. The host’s house is a little cleaner than normal because the pastor was coming over, but that’s ok because your house is cleaned anytime you’ve got guests too. The food comes out, it’s smelling good, and it’s time to bless it.
What’s the likelihood that you’re going to be asked to pray?
My personal experience has that percentage floating around 75%. Maybe your experience is different but I bet it’s still pretty high. Why? It’s because you’re the expert, of course. Whether people think that your prayers count for more because you’re supposed to have a direct line to God or because they’re simply intimidated by you, you’’re going to be asked to pray because you’re assumed to be the guy in the room who does it better than everybody else.
Plop yourself in the middle of a small group and you’re expected to be the expert of whatever is being discussed. (And it takes a really mature pastor to not allow yourself to be seen as such in those environments.) The reality is that when it comes to most spiritual situations you find yourself in, you’re the guy that’s assumed to have everything figured out and locked down tight.
But as a pastor you know, and as I’ve already written in other places (here, here, & here) there are a couple of things that are very powerful tools in your tool belt to help your people grow— Sink or swim moments that cause people to 1) struggle a little bit and build some character, and 2) figure out how to turn around and teach it to others. These moments are invaluable in moving people from immaturity to maturity; from participants to leaders; and even on to leaders of leaders.
But what about yourself?
What do you have at your disposal to push you into seasons of growth? The best pastors I know are lifelong learners and through both formal and informal education, they are intentional about constantly pushing deeper. If only there were a ministry location that removed you from your comfort zone and created opportunities for you to be dependent on others…..
Much ink has been spilled over the pros and cons of short-term missions. We have all seen it done poorly. We’ve all seen it waste time and resources and create problems for local workers. These cons should be weighed carefully with a heart of repentance. But the pros are undeniable. The ability of short-term missions (when done well) to affect change in your people has no equal. It calls them to press in to God. It broadens their worldview. It rearranges the priorities of what is necessary in their minds and hearts. When short-term missions is done correctly. It simultaneously serves the cause of the gospel somewhere else AND serves as an invaluable tool for shaping your people.
But leaders are learners.
God wants to shape you just as much as He wants to shape your people. And putting yourself in environments where that shaping can happen in big ways is a very good thing. Brother pastor, get on an airplane once in a while and do ministry in a place where you’re not the expert. God will use it deepen you too.