One of the Pastor's Mottos

Mottos (or slogans) are somewhat trendy. Within most organizations, you can expect to have one. They provide vision, core values, and direction for the overall trajectory of the institution. "An Army of One," "Have It Your Way Right Away," "Just Do It," and "I'm Lovin' It" are some of the more familiar mottos. Each of these suggests something about the beliefs of that particular company and their desire for service in certain areas.

Like other organizations, the pastor might also consider ascribing to a motto (or two or three). It may not be as trendy as some of the others, but like every motto is should provide guiding principles by which one can live. (It is a catechesis of sorts). It should grant a sense of one's expectations in the ministry. When he looks to his motto, he should not only be reminded of his calling but also the calling of his Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. After all, Jesus' person and work are the foundation of pastoral ministry. Without Christ, the pastoral vocation cannot exist. 

So what is one of those mottos? "I came not to be served but to serve and give my life."

The words come from our savior who bore our sins on the tree. It is no wonder he could conclude this motto, or more appropriately titled, this section of scripture, by saying, "...and give my life a ransom for many." Since pastors are not in the business of atoning for anyone's sins, we can, for the purposes of this post, eliminate that portion of the text. Nevertheless, the section that does remain highlights a pastor's calling to service--selfless service.

Selfless service is difficult. In a society where we sometimes embrace the statement, "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours," it is hard to serve others recognizing that, as a pastor, you will never, as they say in the finance world, "gain the same return on your investment." In other words, pastors cannot, and perhaps should not, expect to receive the same degree of service from others that they supply toward those in their congregation. When one realizes he will not gain the same return on his investment, so to speak, "selfless" becomes a pivotal word. A pastor must serve his local congregation not expecting so much as a thank you in return. His service, however, while toward others, is ultimately toward God and for his glory (WSC 1). And since he knows, or at least I hope he knows, God is pleased with his obedience, that should provide enough motivation for his service even when it seems like his efforts are not producing solid returns.

"I came not to be served but to serve and give my life."

A pastor is also required to endure many sufferings. Similar to his savior, he will be despised and rejected by men. No matter what he does nor how aligned he is with the word of God, people will always find reasons to express their dissatisfaction with their pastor. That may come in the form of email, telephone conversations, or gossip. Whichever their selection, congregants will express their disdain for their pastor's ministry even if they (i.e., those expressing disdain) have no feet on which to stand. Reflecting on the PM will realign the pastor's thoughts so that, when--not if--this comes, he can be reminded of his calling--service. 

The motto does not only serve to brace the pastor for difficult seasons but also enliven his heart for the great blessings of his ministry. Not everything in the ministry is doom and gloom. Seeing the Holy Spirit sanctify his people, bring unbelievers to saving faith, and work in your own heart are some of the many blessings of pastoral ministry. A pastor's faithful service in the word and prayer, as it is accompanied by the sovereign movement of God, will produce the aforementioned. What a joy! What a gift!

"...even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28)

The God-man Jesus Christ is the perfect shepherd. Not only does his shepherding provide an example to follow in many ways, but it is Christ's person and work that garners his people reconciliation with God. In him, we have the full forgiveness of our sins, perfect righteousness, adoption, and a sure future with him. It should be every pastor's delight, therefore, not only to marvel in these truths, but as an expression of gratitude and obedience to the Lord, serve God's people.

"I came not to be served but to serve and give my life."