I remember a church planter coming to check out my church. He said he liked my sermon and that he heard a sermon that morning which was so weak he wanted to “Punch the preacher in the frigging neck!” A friend of mine who looks like he could go bear hunting with a twig and come back with seven carcasses and who also does ultimate fighting for fun and fitness (!!!) was listening in on this conversation. After the church planter left I turned to my huge friend who could kill me in an instant and I said “What did you think of that pastor. He is tough eh?” And my friend quietly said “I don’t want a pastor who is going to punch guys in the neck. I want a pastor who loves his people. I don’t want a tough pastor I want a biblical Pastor who loves me.”
When I look at the biblical qualities of a pastor (1 Timothy 3 etc.) and I look at what Jesus says should define us as Christians (i.e. John 13:35) the word tough doesn’t even get a mention.
What should define us as pastors or Christians? I think my thickly muscled brother was right. What should define us is Love. We should be loving people. Think of Jesus and Paul, they both loved (e.g. John 15:12-13, 1 Thessalonians 2:7-11). In fact I think we can say their ministry was defined in large part by the fact the loved their people. But here is the most interesting thing, they were extremely tough. Both took beatings (Matthew 27:26, Acts 16:16-24), both were deserted (Mark 14:43-52, 2 Timothy 4:9-18) and people rejected their preaching (John 6:60-70; Acts 17:32-34).
It seems to me that if we define ourselves by trying to love our people we will be tough.
It seems as though love produces grit and toughness
Whereas many pastors and other men who want to be tough lack love
That is why I don’t want to be a tough pastor I want to be a loving pastor
I want love to define me as it did with Jesus and Paul