Over the past two months, it has been my privilege to attend numerous state convention annual meetings—preaching, teaching, hosting Gateway events, and interfacing with pastors and other leaders. A common theme in both the meetings and the conversations has been the wearisome ministry season pastors and other leaders have endured since the pandemic began. To put it in a phrase, ministry leaders—particularly pastors—are weary and worn down.

While there are many reasons for this, one of the primary sources of emotional depletion among pastors is dealing with petty conflicts between church members over issues like masks, vaccines, and other pandemic-related issues. Pastors are shepherds who prefer to keep watch over peaceful flocks. They are also peacemakers—people who promote peace—rather than look for ways to stir up dissension. When trouble comes among their followers, it takes an emotional toll on pastors and other leaders.

One biblical leader recorded his experience about the impact of conflict among his followers on him. Paul appealed to the Philippians (2:2) to “make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” A leader’s joy is affected by the way his followers treat each other, not just the way they treat the leader. When a pastor has members arguing, debating, or disputing with each other, he pays an emotional price. Church division is a joy-sucking distraction for a pastor.

Seminary presidents are not pastors, but we still lead religious communities. The spiritual maturity of the Gateway community during the pandemic has been energizing for me as their leader. While our employees and students have many opinions on pandemic-related issues, they have consistently kept our mission at the forefront and worked hard to minimize divisive debates about extraneous issues. They have given me the gift of deference and support.

Give your pastor and other church leaders the same holiday gift this year. Stop needless arguments over divisive issues. Recognize pastors and other leaders are making hard decisions about nebulous issues with almost no frames of reference or best practices to guide their choices. Determine to support your pastor and other leaders, with humility and deference, rather than add to their burden by sharing your joy-robbing opinions on “what they ought to do.”

Pastors are dutiful shepherds. Most have stayed faithful during the pandemic, fulfilling their calling and providing pastoral care to hurting people. They have demonstrated supernatural patience and remarkable endurance. Stand with your pastor by choosing to be a cooperative part of their flock. By doing so you add to their joy and contribute to their resiliency. That’s a Christmas gift every one of us can give this year.


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Dr. Iorg provides four ways you can start reinforcing contentment in your life.

Jeff Iorg
President
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.

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The implicit language of Esther maintains the mystery of God’s sovereignty—a topic human beings naturally are unable to comprehend.

Sang Boo
Pastor of Canvas Ministry, Good Community Church of Torrance
Pastor Sang joined Good Community Church in June 2014. He earned two degrees from Gateway Seminary: the MDiv in 2009 and the PhD in 2017.

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Dr. Chris Chun hosted a digital symposium with Dr. Michael Haykin and Dr. Robert Caldwell to discuss Edwards’ spirituality, devotional life and theological impact in American Christianity.

Chris Chun
Professor of Church History | Director, Jonathan Edwards Center
Dr. Chris Chun is the professor of Church History and the director of Jonathan Edwards Center at Gateway Seminary. Chris’ doctoral research at St. Andrews University was focused on the eighteenth-century Edwardsean Baptists in Britain. He also has served as president of The Evangelical Theological Society (Far West Region).

Faculty Dialogues: Dispensationalism or Not

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David Rathel
Associate Professor of Christian Theology
Dr. Rathel is the associate professor of Chrisitian Theology at Gateway Seminary. Prior to Gateway, Dr. Rathel supplied pastoral care to churches in the United States and Scotland, served as an Adjunct Professor of Theology and Philosophy for the Baptist College of Florida, and provided teaching assistance for the University of St Andrews.

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