Good pastoring just doesn’t happen. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes understanding. It takes time and effort to understand God and his ways. It takes time and effort in understanding God’s people and their ways. And then it takes time and effort in bringing together the two.
A preaching pastor is given the responsibility to wield the sword of the word, which carries an edge of encouragement and rebuke. It’s through understanding the ways of God and the ways of his people that the preacher will know how to wield the sword to encourage and rebuke. God’s people must be encouraged, or they will give up hope. They must be encouraged to live as God would have them. They must be encouraged in that the God they worship is for them and not against them. Our hearts and our minds are like sieves, we leak and we forget; so there is a constant call to encourage and empower.
However, there are times when the preacher must wield the sword of the word as a pruning hook. To cut off that which needs cutting off. Sometimes that word must be blunt. Other times that word is a little more subtle. But, the preacher must never ever hold back in speaking God’s word into any and every situation. For the preacher is not called to have a ‘there there’ ministry: instead, they are called to build up that which is broken, they are called to spur on that which needs to be spurred on and they must never ever hold back the words of the Lord.
For the word is not just to be known, it has to be sown. It has to be fertilised. It has to be tendered. It has to bear fruit. For God promises that his word will not return void. If a preacher just preaches the word, without considering the needs of those they are preaching to, the word loses its power to do the work which God would intend it to do. Yet, if the preacher only preaches that which the congregation wants, God is left out of the equation and the congregations ‘true’ needs grow larger.
Hence the knowledge of both God and his people is needed. For God truly knows his people. He knows every thing about them. And while the pastor doesn’t have to know everything about those under his care, he does have to know them. And its through the process of knowing those under their care, the pastor can truly wield the sword of the word in the full power of the word.