Monday, 7 May 2012

Ray on Monday Comparing Ministry - Then and Now

Farewell - and (official) retirement
from Maitland, NSW, 2001
1970 with Graeme Irvine
visiting from World Vision

I’m retired – well mostly.
Some preaching and Bible studies are done between grandchildren, gardening, volunteering at Seahorse World and writing. When I reflect upon my ministry which began in Bible College in 1960 and the expectations of today, I think I had the best of the eras.

Preaching, teaching, people and pastoral work were my priorities. Administration, a weak spot, best done by others, if possible! I accepted the ministry as a 24/7 calling. This was offset by a flexibility most jobs didn’t afford. Being accountable to my elders and the Church helped keep me focused also.

Today as I look at the ministry being done and expected I think I would feel shackled. A minister is under obligations, regulations and expectations by Government requirements, Denominational ordination obligations for upgrades and refresher courses plus the local congregation’s expectations. There is little escape from mobile phones, websites and e-mails, compiling reports and police checks, community and Church conferences – to name just a few.

Many local church members long for the former days when the minister was able to major on preaching, teaching (from the pulpit or in classes), and pastoral care. I would imagine many a minister would like that too. Unfortunately present day responsibilities can push those three way down the priority list.
There are a couple of good things which could come out of all this change as each member of the congregation rises to meet new changes in worship.

1… Spiritual maturity is sought so as to stand tall even when standing alone. Who knows when the experience of Paul might be personal.
       ‘At my first defence, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood by my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed.’ 2 Timothy 4:16-17.
2… Compassionate concern for those within your personal sphere of influence, whether church or community!
       ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking on your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.’ Philippians 2:3-4.

I love the Lord and am grateful for His call to ministry. I’ve been blessed by the local churches of which I’ve been a part as well as enriched through God’s word as I’ve studied it, preached it and written about it.

Would I be a minister in 2012 if I was 21 again?
Yes! Still, I have to admit I’m glad I was 21 in 1960, not 2012.

Ray (claiming to be retired) Hawkins

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