It’s momentous to sit in the front row and watch God’s work when our preaching, teaching, and discipling in pastoral ministry connect with God’s people. We witness glorious glimpses of Christ conforming them to his likeness. Yet, if we’re honest, pastoral ministry can be gravely discouraging when people do not appear to either get it or live out the implications of gospel truth.
We usually get frustrated when we serve a scriptural feast each week but still witness spiritual malnourishment. Sometimes it’s that counseling session with a key leader in your church where you walk out discouraged as they battle with a simple gospel issue. Or it’s listening to a home group leader struggle in prayer as he tries to impress others rather than honestly address his heavenly Father. This discouragement is among many reasons why people walk away from vocational ministry. If it feels like most of your ministry is reminding people what they already know, don’t despair. Remembrance is an essential part of discipleship. Click To Tweet
How, then, do we endure discouragement in pastoral ministry? If it feels like most of your ministry is reminding people what they already know, don’t despair. Remembrance is an essential part of discipleship.
Reminding Is Faithful Shepherding
We should embrace “remind ministry” as part of shepherding the flock of God. John Stott argues that once all conscientious Christian teachers have been delivered from the unhealthy lust for originality, they should take pains to make old truths new and stale truths fresh.
Embracing this ministry requires us to recognize that reminding is faithful shepherding. Examine the ministries of Moses, the prophets, Jesus, John, Peter, and Paul, and you’ll see that a huge percentage of their ministry was devoted to reminding God’s people what they already knew. (See Matt. 16:9; 2 Pet. 1:12–13; 1 John 2:21, 2:24; Phil. 3:1; Titus 3:1; Ps. 106:13).
We can draw out a few lessons from these Scriptures:
- Bad memory, or gospel amnesia, is one of the main diseases of the saints. Therefore, we must commit to refreshing the memories of our people (Ps. 90, 106:7 and 13, 136).
- Ministry faithfulness means spending more time reminding people of and insisting on the same truths. This was the lifetime calling of these biblical leaders; it’s ours as well. Commit to the ministry of reinforcing and driving deep into the hearts of people the truths they already know (2 Pet. 1:12–13).
- Part of faithful shepherding is protecting saints from diving headlong into trendy false teachings by grounding them in Christ through reminders. We must make sure our people haven’t only accepted the gospel but continually think about it and let it affect their lives by influencing their minds and actions. The ministry of reminding is crucial for ensuring that even old saints will continue believing in the gospel they heard long ago (1 John 2:21, 24).
- We must resist seeing the ministry of reminding as a burden and instead see it as diligence. It’s like putting a safety alarm on your people’s hearts against false teaching (Phil. 3:1).
- Remind ministry calls the saints back to our Christian identity and mission amid alluring cultures. This season has made it clear that the church is prone to forget our role. We’re surprised by darkness and get swept up in current news. We forget we’re called to be a city on a hill shining brightly (Matt. 5:13). Even among all cultures, we must be good citizens and neighbors, adorning our Savior (Titus 3:1–2).
Remind ministry is for our people—and it’s for us. Embracing this ministry saves us from the tyranny of wanting fast results; we’ll be comfortable with our call to labor patiently as “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). Could the repetitive work of reminding in ministry be one of the ways we suffer labor pains for our people until Christ is formed in them (Gal. 4:19)?
Cling to the Gospel
So pastors, remind people of the basic tenets of our faith in your preaching. Don’t get exasperated when you’re caught in a cycle of continual reminding. Be released from the pressure of coming up with mind-blowing revelations and cling to the ancient and proven truths entrusted to us.
Regularly engage in practices that strengthen your people’s gospel memory. Realize that our Savior knew how desperately we need to be reminded of gospel realities. He gave us the institution of the Lord’s Supper, saying, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). Teach your people to relish and rejoice in these reminders. God has called you and me to be faithful to his Word. If reminding people is all we do, it’s good work. Click To Tweet
We can create an environment where it seems what’s needed is more than the gospel. Resist this impulse! God has called you and me to be faithful to his Word. If reminding people is all we do, it’s good work. When we hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” we’ll know that the ministry of reminding was worth it.