I was out on the sea, a number of years ago, in a little boat with a little motor amidst big waves. Not a good combination. Pushing the analogy, a pastor needs some sort of deep keel to keep him balanced in the midst of big “waves” so that he stays afloat.
Brian Croft wrote on his blog the other day about the necessity of a deep, inner call to ministry for those young men contemplating pastoral vocation. In reference to the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 3:1, that men who feel drawn to ministry “desire a good work”, Pastor Croft connects this word, “desires” with the way many in our time speak of a “calling” to ministry. The reason this “calling” and “desire” is necessary is because it is one of the things that will help a pastor to stay standing when all of the pressures and junk and pain of ministry are hurled his way. He put it more eloquently:
…an unquenchable longing for this work is required, for it is a work fraught with struggles, challenges, discouragements, pressures, and spiritual battles that can cripple the strongest of men whose desire for this divine labor is ordinary. It must be a desire that cannot be stolen when your brother betrays you; a desire that cannot be weakened when your job is threatened; a desire that cannot be quenched when physical, mental, and emotional fatigue firmly take root. This desire must so define the individual that the reality of an internal calling is unmistakable.
Of course there is more to standing firm in ministry than this desire. But without it, my wife and I would have turned our backs on vocational ministry years ago. Even now, when untrue things are being repeated about me, the desire to serve the Bride of Christ rather than to spite her keeps me on an even keel.