During my lifetime I have had the privilege to know personally many pastors, including to having many in my family lineage. So you can imagine my concern when I saw a recent post on Facebook that reported as many as four to five thousand pastors quit the ministry every year. As I think about this, I am certain the root of it all, is a gradual decline in prayerfulness. If the enemy has a hundred strategies in his tool bag, the one that he works the hardest at is to try to get believers and especially pastors to do is to decrease the amount of time each day they spend in prayer. For a spiritual person to quit praying is as deadly spiritually as for a natural man to quit breathing.
Over the course of my lifetime, it is safe to say that I have preached directly or indirectly to thousands of people. During one season of my life while traveling as an evangelist/revivalist, I got to know innumerable pastors and their spouses. One of my favorite and I felt necessary things to do when I arrived as a guest speaker was to spend time praying inside the church where I would be speaking that night. I made it my regular responsibility to explain that to every pastor and to make sure that I had a key to be able to get into the sanctuary to pray any time of the day or night. I felt this was a part of my responsibility and was a specific calling of the Holy Spirit for the ministry that was supposed to take place there that particular week. I always made it a practice to invite the pastor(s) to join me for these all-important prayer times. Sadly however, more commonly than not I was graciously asked if they could be excused because of the busyness of their schedule. Sometimes I would then politely ask if they could just join me for one day or early morning that week and almost without exception for one reason or another, they just could not make it!
Not that many years ago I could easily name ten people that I knew who diligently sought the Lord daily with all of their heart. If I had been praying about something over time and I felt God calling me to some new ministry or to take some new big step forward, I treasured their counsel, because I believe that “people that pray a lot agree a lot!” I knew that if somehow in my own weaknesses, I was missing God in this next step, they were in tune enough with the Holy Spirit to give me gentle counsel and offer their Holy Spirit-led warnings about where I felt that I was to go. In today’s world, I can honestly say that I am now down to just a few people who will pray in tandem with me concerning life’s decisions. However, due to the busyness of life, it is often hard to get one of those few to spend any one-on-one time over coffee or to pray in person with me. Oh, the sweet fellowship that grows from those beautiful prayer times between a couple of close brothers or sisters in the Lord. However, unfortunately what often starts as prayer meetings end up being gab sessions and sadly sometimes devolve into discussions of the local gossip.
The sad result of the gradual trip down the demonically planned road of distractions, deceptions, and out of balance affections of family and friends which rob a pastor’s “God time” is that pastors slowly lose their anointing. Their power fades, their unction dissipates, and their once red-hot flame of God’s spiritual things slowly degenerates into a lukewarm love for Jesus, His Spirit, His Word, and a biblical-based love for the Father and His church. The pastor moves away from the role of a father who has the passion to protect his flock from the deceptions of the devil, the lusts of the world, and to keep teaching the revelation of biblical truth to his church. He gradually forgets that he is called not only to lead people to Christ and away from damnation in Hell but to be a keeper of the flock from Hell once saved. (This previous statement is for followers of Armenian theology and will not be understood by Calvinists. Let he who is able to receive it receive it) A pastor, if he is not careful, takes on more of a grandfather-type role, the role of what I call “Pastor Pop-Pop”!
Time does not permit me to go into extensive teaching here on the subject but I once wrote a three-part series of articles called, “The Conditions of Unconditional Love Parts I, II, III. They can be viewed by clicking on the following link for the first article https://www.christianpost.com/voices/the-conditions-of-unconditional-love-part-1.html. I found it very interesting however, that when psychologists, who were not theologians, developed the phrase “unconditional love” back in the 1970s and were looking for a way to describe that kind of love, they felt that a “grandparent’s love” best described it. Unconditional love is without any form of correction! Sadly, many today feel that Christianity without any form of correction is Christ’s model. However, the real truth is that to remove Jesus’s correction from all His teaching you would have to eliminate at least one-third of what He said!
Over time many pastors feel the need to soften their preaching, to be more “loving” with their biblical subject matter. Those that do feel this compulsion for a very good reason. They gradually realize that that Pastor Pop-Pop is exactly who people want and prefer! Jeremiah said it so well; “The prophets prophesy falsely, and my priest’s bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so!” Jeremiah 5:31(KJV) The problem with being what many consider more loving causes one to become more passive about almost everything else and soft on the subject of sin, the sin which according to 1st Corinthians 6:9 could keep congregants out of Heaven!
Many like to use “John the Beloved” disciple as their example of someone who over time became more loving. Bible historians like to claim this and seem to have supportive historical evidence to endorse that thought, yet we must not forget who penned the Book of Revelation at the very end of his life while in exile on the Isle of Patmos. Jesus’s words to some of the seven churches, as recorded by John contain the absolute strongest rebukes found anywhere in the New Testament. For example, to the church at Thyatira Jezebel is warned of Jesus’s judgment of sickness on her and of death coming to her children. John wrote in 1st John 3:8 “He that committeth sin is of the devil.”(KJV)
As I recently quoted to a dear friend “It is not that many modern teachings are evil of themselves they just need balance added, but without that balance then the teaching is incomplete and has the potential of doing evil things” Becoming a “Pastor Pop-Pop” towards the end of your ministry by avoiding seemingly hard or harsh teachings of the scripture may seem sweet. I’m sure you have the applause of your family and congregation. Many may say that you are becoming more like a “John the Beloved” or a “Barnabas” type. However, my dear brother or sister who is moving toward being a “Pastor Nana”, or a Pastor Pop-Pop, if you are not rightly dividing the Word of Truth you are in error! If you have let your prayer life slip into nonexistence and if you are by some slight chance wanting to make life easier on yourself in your retirement years, then you need to be rebuked in Jesus name and called back to a prayer closet of repentance. Back away from retirement to re-fire-ment and strongly “finishing your course” and be faithful to the end like Paul who stated, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God!” Acts 20:27(KJV)