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Pastor to Pastor

A Combination of Opposites

Pastoral ministry is an art form.

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you. 2 Corinthians 2.4

The Christian Ministry: Part I, chapter VI
Charles Bridges (1794-1869)
“In ‘considering the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Jesus Christ,’ we witness a most harmonious combination of seeming opposite characteristics. The Ministry of our Lord was distinguished by the dignity of God, and the sympathy of a man and a brother – by the authority of the commissioned delegate of the Father, and yet by the humility of a servant, who ‘came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.’ If ‘he taught as one having authority,’ yet they were ‘gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth,’ tempered with ‘the meekness of wisdom’ and the ‘gentleness’ of love.”

The calling to shepherd God’s flock is a high and holy one, combining vision, life, and skills in a manner unlike any other vocation. There is an art to pastoral ministry which requires the skilled application of seemingly opposing tools and resources to achieve the outcomes of discipleship. Just as the physician of the body must sometimes inflict pain to restore health, or urge exertion to restore rest and health, so the pastor must be able to speak hard words in love, troubling complacent souls by insisting on great exertions to bring forth Kingdom righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit. It was said of Patrick that he invested the Gospel in people lavishly, but he demanded repayment with interest in terms of holiness, worship, and service to the Lord. Jesus said we must die if we would live, deny ourselves if we would gain our souls, and throw ourselves to the dirt if we would germinate and bear fruit. Make large demands, brethren, but do so with grace.

Pastors need to continue improving these diverse skills. What is your approach to the ongoing development of your pastoral art?

Fan into Flame

Perhaps it’s time for a review of the basics of the work of a shepherd? Our handbook, Fan into Flame, provides a concise overview of the work of a shepherd – context, tools, and outcomes – and includes helpful self-evaluation tools. Order your copy by clicking here.

Introduction to Spiritual Theology
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Help us build up the community of readers who are learning from great pastors of the past. Pass along this copy of Pastor to Pastor to a friend in ministry, and encourage him to sign-up at our website,, to receive it every day.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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