There are certainly many challenges and trials in the pastorate, but on the other hand, there are also many joys, things that bring great encouragement and happiness. One of the tremendous blessings of being a pastor is the privilege to study the Scriptures full-time. What others have to squeeze into their busy schedules, you get to do on a regular basis . . . and get paid to do it! When I sit down, open my Bible, place a pile of commentaries in front of me, and begin reflecting upon the intricacies of the text, I try to remind myself how much of a privilege it is. I get to read scads and scads of brilliant (and some lack-luster) theological works. I remember talking with a pastor who was still preaching in his 90’s. I asked him over a cup of tea at a post-worship service fellowship what he enjoyed doing. As tears began to well up in his eyes and voice quivered, he told me, “I find great joy in studying the word of God and preparing my weekly sermons.”
Another great joy is getting to see the “lights go on” and watch people grow in their sanctification. I can remember leading a retreat on the doctrine of sanctification and talking about the importance of the means of grace. A few months later one of my colleagues told me that the wife of one of the men on the retreat told him, “Ever since that retreat my husband is a changed man. He’s constantly reading his Bible.” To hear such a report brought great joy to my heart. It’s encouraging to see people struggle with sin and then watch the Lord deliver them from it, and to play a role in bringing it about. Like a midwife helping someone give birth, or to use a biblical analogy, you plant and water, but God gives the increase. But even then, it’s exciting and a blessing to see the plant grow! It’s also quite humbling to know that God is using you to help others.
One of the biggest perks, I think, of being a pastor is having the privilege of administering the sacrament of baptism. I have had the joy of baptizing all three of my children. While I would have been happy to have our pastor baptize them, it’s a real joy to hold your child, pray for him, pour the water upon him, unite him to the visible church in the triune name of God, and pronounce the Aaronic benediction upon him. In all honesty, it’s sometimes difficult to baptize an infant because it presents such a powerful portrait of our utter helplessness and inability to reach out to God, and God’s grace reaching out to us and marking us as his own. But as a pastor, this is especially so with your own children because they are your own flesh and blood, and your hope and prayer is that our faithful covenant Lord will be a God to you, and to your children (cf. Gen. 17:7; Acts 2:39). It is a joy, therefore, to be able to administer the sign and seal of the covenant of grace to your own children.
All of these things, and many others, convey to me the great joy that it is to be able to serve Christ and receive so many blessings in the process. Yes, the pastorate is a road filled with many difficult twists and turns, but it is most certainly a road littered with many tremendous blessings.