An oxymoron is the combination of contradictory words that have been linked together.
You probably already know a few of these such as jumbo shrimp, pretty ugly, working vacation, or humble Texan, but have you ever considered this one? Lazy pastor.
There is no doubt that a healthy church is not possible with an unhealthy pastor or a lazy pastor. So as a fellow pastor within the Texas Baptists family, I want to take this subject head on with you and encourage the idea of being an industrious pastor.
I want to talk about three principles that pastors must adopt to be diligent and not lazy. First, pastors have to remember that God values honest labor.
Paul wrote, “we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we wouldn’t be a burden to any of you.”
Paul was a tentmaker, and by doing this he showed each of his churches the value of good hard work. This was important because most of the people living in the first century thought manual labor was undignified. The problem is that some Christians today have the same negative view toward work. Even some uninformed Christians think hard work was part of the curse God put on humanity after Adam and Eve sinned, but the Bible makes it clear that God put Adam to work in the Garden of Eden before he sinned.
Genesis 2:15 says,“the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
As a matter of fact, all through the Bible, God commends the value of work. The fourth commandment was about taking a day of rest because we had been working so hard all the other six.
So, God says work is good. It’s something we should do six days of the week. He didn’t give us four rest days a week; He gave us only one. We would do well to remember the words of legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, who said, “the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”
The second principle for pastors is that laziness is contagious, so we should avoid lazy people. Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 3:6, “we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle.” Sometimes we laugh at lazy people or lazy pastors, but Paul wasn’t laughing.
Paul’s command was to stay away from every believer who was lazy. I had a friend tell me that if I ever found a fellow pastor chilling out on the sofa eating Cheetos and drinking a Coke, I had better get away. Why? Because soon I may find myself chilling on the sofa with orange lips.
I love the sayings from Ben Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanac. Two of my favorites are: “Plough deep while sluggards sleep and you shall have corn to sell and to keep,” and “If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas!”
Be careful. Laziness is contagious.
The third principle for healthy and industrious pastors is that our excellence at work should be an example to others. I like how Paul explains why he made tents in Thessalonica.
He said, “we did this… in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to follow.” In other words, he was trying to set a good example by working hard. As pastors, we should be the kinds of workers that serve as an example to others. I don’t know if you have someone like this in your life, but my dad was this for me. He was hard worker, and he always said, “son, if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right!”
Friends, that’s a Biblical principle! Paul said, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if you were working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:23)
The best way a pastor can glorify God is by working with all of his heart.
I close with the words of Zig Ziglar. He had enthusiasm to spare. He used to tell a story about a young couple lost on a country road. They spotted an old farmer, so they stopped their car to get directions. The young man said, “Sir, could you tell us where this road will take us?” With a twinkle in his eye, the wise old farmer said, “Son, this road will take you anywhere in the world you want to go—you just have to keep moving in the right direction.”
Our churches will move in the right direction if their pastor is moving in the right direction. Find ways to be hard-working, diligent and industrious.
Danny Reeves is the current President of Texas Baptists and pastor of First Baptist Church of Corsicana.