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  • Jeffrey Goodman

Ambitious Preachers

Preachers are subject to the same fits of ambition and glory as anyone else. Some struggle with envy over other parishes or ministries other pastors are serving in. When things get rough in their parish they log on to the internet and browse other churches and look over vacancy lists in the vain hope that another church would be a better place and that their ministry would be more appreciated there then where they are presently.


I once came across a quote that helped me see through this temptation that all pastors face. It is a quote from C.F.W. Walther. Walther doesn’t get much air play here on the east coast among the Lutherans who reside in Pennsylvania (but he should!). Do read his book put out by CPH entitled “Law and Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible.” Walther is one of the founding fathers of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.


On 27 February 1885 to a classroom full of ministerial candidates in St. Louis he said this, “When a Lutheran candidate of theology is assigned to a parish where he is to discharge the office of a Lutheran preacher, for him that place ought to be the dearest, most beautiful, and most precious spot on earth. He should be unwilling to exchange it for a kingdom. Whether it is in a metropolis or in a small town, on a bleak prairie or in a clearing in the forest, in a flourishing settlement or in a desert-for him that place should be a miniature paradise. Do not the blessed angels descend from heaven with great joy whenever the Father in heaven sends them to minister to those who are to inherit salvation?”


Indeed, as Belinda Carlisle (who knew she was so Lutheran!) once sang “Heaven is a place on earth” and you know what? It’s found in your local church that faithfully preaches the pure Gospel (an increasingly rare thing these days). As such then this place, is heaven on earth. It’s the best.


The church will always bear the cross. There will always be trials, troubles and tribulations for every church in this age. After all that’s why we are the church militant. It took a while for me to recognize that. I suspect eventually every pastor needs to come to this understanding or they will never spend more than a few years at one parish always looking for the next bigger and better church. So, to my fellow preachers, dig in and stand your post. Do the work that the good Lord has given you to do and stand firm in the Faith once delivered. You are serving at an outpost of heaven and there is nothing better than that.

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