And it came to pass upon a life time, that the Lord God spoke to the 21st century pastor, who did look for direction and did call her/him down in the valley of prayer from the mountain of intimacy and did give unto her/him these ideas.
1. Thou shalt seek the approval of the Lord God and God’s affirmation only wilt thou seek.
Some of us enter vocational ministry with miry clay around our heels. We have little or no self-understanding and so take our identity from what people say of us. Naturally, this lays us open to a roller coaster emotionality wherein we may become addicted to affirmation. In what other profession does it take fifteen minutes to answer the casual question, "What did you do today?"
C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, "…in all men’s lives at certain periods, and in many men’s lives at all periods between infancy and extreme old age, one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside."
This is naturally true of the vocational minister in any age. You know the old saw about the three sexes, male, female and clergy? It perfectly illustrates just how removed we are from the local Ring.
Others’ agendas also impinge on the approval seeker. Passive-aggressive congregants who once offer, then withdraw, applause, can easily goad the mouse/minister through their maze. (This is, by the way, a wonderful way to know what someone wants from us. What do they praise, seemingly out of context and what do they condemn, seemingly without reason?)
The wise 21st century vocational minister will use some energy to come to know herself/himself. Wonderful testing is available to give insights into the inner workings of one’s own character. A healthy person does the things that make her/him healthy and the preventive things to maintain wellness.
Build up a core group (not a power bloc) who will tell you when you have bad breath. These may not be church members nor other local clergy but should be very accessible. It is difficult to turn up on someone’s doorstep after a long absence and ask plaintitively the question, "What is wrong with me all of a sudden?"
The spiritual 21st century vocational minister will know and practice the benefits of meditation. Some studies now suggest meditiation moves brain wave activity from the side of the brain dedicated to fight/flight impulses to the side of the brain dedicated to thought/serenity/mental calm. I think the one thing most compelling about my few conversations around/with Dallas Willard was the total absence of the ego compulsion to defend his positions. He simply stated his stance, smiled wryly and used questions as a teachable moment. A meditative person is not a fight/flight person. There is an eerie calm about the meditative man/woman.
The wise 21st century vocational minister will not let personal disturbances interupt her/his worship. She/he will minister from the overflow of the devotional experience, expecting God will give her/him words to say from a deep well spring of Christian thinking. If God guides our devotional thinking in a particular way, is it not likely God will put that devotional experience to practical use soon?
In fact, to worship is to seek divine direction and approval. If we run off after the approving/condemning local populace it can be practially said we worship this populace for we seek its direction and approval. We shall worship the Lord God who does not change, does not do evil nor tempt others to do evil and God only will we worship.