Monday, October 1, 2012

Pastoral Leadership as a Means of Grace

I am mulling over Wesley's list of the Prudential Means of Grace found in the 'Large' Minutes, especially the Means of Grace for Preachers and Assistants--
  1. Preacher Means: meet with society, leaders, bands, visit the sick and well, instructing in homes, relative duties
  2. Assistant Means: regulate the societies, bands, and books. hold watch-nights, love feasts, and quarterly examinations. Send Wesley account of preachers’ defects 
The means of grace are supposed to be channels through which we experience God's grace.  In most cases our reaction to grace will either be one of conviction, faith, or love.  Seen from this perspective, I can affirm that as a pastor I frequently feel convinced of my limitations.

This paragraph from doctrinal Sermon 24 helps me define pastoral experiences as a means of grace that convinces--
"There is no disposition, for instance, which is more essential to Christianity than meekness. Now although this, as it implies resignation to God, or patience in pain and sickness, may subsist in a desert, in a hermit's cell, in total solitude; yet as it implies (which it no less necessarily does) mildness, gentleness, and long-suffering, it cannot possibly have a being, it has no place under heaven, without an intercourse with other men. So that to attempt turning this into a solitary virtue is to destroy it from the face of the earth."
Preaching the Gospel and leading others to live out the Gospel within a local church continually provides opportunities to cry out to God for assistance in practicing mildness, gentleness, and patience.  The phrase "herding cats" often comes to mind when I reflect on my ministry.

What a privilege to be able to wait for an experience of grace within this prudential mean.  It builds faith muscles like no other means that I've practiced.  It re-enforces my use of the Instituted Means of Grace.  And it spurs my hunger and thirst for righteousness.

I'll blog later on the pastoral role as a means of grace that justifies and sanctifies.  In the meantime, feel free to add your own testimonials.

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