WANTED: Mission-focused Pastors

I have always said that ministry is not for the faint-hearted. This has never been more true.

Even the smallest exposure to news feeds will herald highly-charged political elections, ever-changing pandemic alerts, ongoing overt and covert racial injustice, financial volatility and global resource (i.e., water) shortages.

People are experiencing a growing sense of worry and anxiety about the future, and it is easy to get caught up in the loud sociopolitical voices offering flawed solutions to myopic diagnoses of the actual problem.

The truth is that core problems facing humanity today cannot be solved by partisanship solutions offered by either side. When a disease is misdiagnosed, the treatment plan will not solve or heal the presenting problem.

Escalating rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation are merely proof that people’s thought patterns, emotional responses and behavioral coping mechanisms are deteriorating as rapidly as our planet’s resources. Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (52.9 million in 2020).1  

If we are not spiritually awake, growing degrees of personal, relational and systemic distrust, along with fear and anxiety, can infect our purpose and mission as spiritual leaders.

While some folks are stocking up and relocating to rural hideaways, other mission-focused disciples are awakening to their privilege and responsibility to share Christ’s good news Gospel. They are ready to share hope and healing with increasingly worried and spiritually confused people who have yet to experience the alternative reality that comes when abiding in Christ.

Christ left heaven to show us — in flesh — what His Father’s mission was for Him. He understood clearly, as He quoted Isaiah 61, that His mission and the mission of His disciples was to preach Good News to the poor, to offer healing to those whose hearts have been broken, to announce liberty and freedom to the oppressed and to unshackle those imprisoned by strongholds.

It isn’t that Jesus didn’t understand what was going on around him. He clearly understood His counter-culture message was infuriating the deeply misguided spiritual leaders in His community. He knew they were plotting to flagrantly break the sixth commandment even while they obsessed over their additional Sabbath laws and punishments.

Christ understood He was living amongst self-deceived spiritual leaders who were obsessed with discrediting Him and taking down His radical ministry.

But Jesus continued healing and doing good for the physically, emotionally and spiritually broken people along the path His Father was leading Him down — all while embodying deep love, compassion, joy and serenity. 

Christ did not allow the fear, hate, rage and murderous intentions of the Pharisees and Sadducee’s to thwart the peace, joy and love grounding His mission. Nor did he allow the erroneous political expectations of his disciples to get in the way.

Knowing who He was — a deeply loved and accepted Son (identity) — and what He was here to do — seek and save broken sinners (mission) — grounded His exemplary, other-focused life with an abiding and unshakable trust in His heavenly Father. 

Being a minister today requires a clear understanding of our identity in Christ and a highly defined understanding of what it means to live, preach and share Christ’s Good News.

When we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God, He declares that it is “good” and it is “what He requires.” The Message says, “But He’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously — take God seriously” (Micah 6:8, MSG).

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Luke 10:2). Today, more than ever before, disillusioned and hopeless individuals are beyond ripe for Christ’s good news message which includes an “exchange plan,” rigged in our favor.

We get to invite people to surrender their emotional and spiritual poverty, and their emotional wounds and generational sins keeping them bound to addictions. In exchange, they get to receive His gracious, abiding presence, His healing love, His liberating freedom, and a sustainable dose of His peace, serenity and joy to cushion the earthly journey.

Yes, Christ’s Good News Gospel is REALLY GOOD NEWS amid bleak, planetary prognostics signaling unsustainable conditions to both the religious and secular alike.

Let’s stay focused on Christ’s mission!

1 https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness

Author

César De León

North Pacific Union vice president for Hispanic ministries and ministerial director
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