Where should a farmer spend his time? Planting or harvesting? Tending the fields or mending the fences? The answer, of course, depends on the season. When there is harvesting to be done, harvest. When their is no harvesting to be done, and there is no crop to be tended, and no fields need attention, well then, mend fences. So the million-soul question is: is it harvest time or not? Jesus seemed to think so:
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Mat 9:37)
So let’s suppose the local church ought to be going about the business of harvesting. Sure there are other tasks to be done to support the harvesting work, but a pastor must choose very carefully whether those other tasks are the sort that can be done by others or whether he must attend to them personally. If the pastor is a shepherd, what is his job? To be nice to the sheep and cuddle with them? Or to get out, find lost sheep, bring them home, feed them, and give himself to the protection of all of his flock from the threat of predators?
These thoughts have been going through my mind since coming across the following very perceptive words from Mark Driscoll:
In retrospect, this was a hard lesson, one that I have had to learn many times in the various seasons of our church. As a church grows, it also changes. And as a church changes, so does the accessibility of the pastor and his family. As the pastor gets busier with new people and responsibilities, some people are displaced and are not as close to the pastor as they had been. Displaced people are prone to expect the pastor to ensure that their access to him and his family will never change. If the pastor agrees to these demands, he will keep the disgruntled people but not reach any new people because the mission will shift from reaching new people to pleasing old people. No matter what leaders in this situation do, they will lose people and must wisely choose who they will lose. (Mark Driscoll, Confessions of a Reformission Rev., Zondervan 2006, pp. 81-82).