[shoulders] SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #6 2/15/98

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From: lifeunlimited@... (Robert A Tolliver)
Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 20:22:23 -0600
Subject: SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #6  2/15/98
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 1998 18:01:57 -0600
Message-ID: <19980215.180158.12534.4.lifeunlimited@...>

A Newsletter designed exclusively to encourage fellow "co-laborers" in
the Gospel Ministry.

Dear Friends:

Last week was an interesting one.  I missed my time with you!  When I sat
down at my computer last Sunday afternoon, even though I fully intended
to Not send a newsletter, I still had the urge to do so.  Even though
I've been writing these letters for less than two months now,  it was as
if I was missing a long-standing time of fellowship and conversation over
a cup of coffee with a good friend.  I'm glad to be with you again.

I'm still uncertain as to how often these newsletters will come your way,
but they most likely will come either weekly  or every other week.  Just
look for the number in the Subject line to see if you've missed an issue.

Before I share what is in my heart to encourage you, I do want to mention
a special prayer request.  

We have purposed to NEVER use this newsletter as a means of soliciting
funds or scheduling engagements for our ministry.  That is not what it is
for.  However, that not withstanding, I want to invite your prayers
concerning perhaps one of the most significant opportunities of our 42
years of ministry.

February 26th Jo Ann and I head back to Croatia where we will be joined a
week later by our good friend, Jeff Floyd.  In the previous five trips
we've made there in the past three years, God has amazingly opened this
new door for us to speak to potentially all the pastors in Croatia and
Bosnia, trying to assist them in helping rebuild their nations by
strengthening the churches and training the pastors.  (There are almost
no second generation church leaders, and most of the current ones are
relatively new believers.)

The issue at hand is that none of these pastors have the money to attend.
 If you would like to know more about this conference and related
meetings we will be conducting, and if you would be interested in either
personally or as a church helping one or more of these pastors attend
this conference, please e-mail me back and ask for details.  Jeff Floyd
and I have agreed to fully fund this rather expensive $9,000 venture, and
we're asking God to raise up some other co-laborers to assist in this
area.  



NOW TO THE MATTER AT HAND:

Have you ever contrasted church as we see it today to the Church as we
read about it in the New Testament?  

Do you see any disparities?

If you do (as I do), what do you make of it all?

Are they important?  Are they bad?  Or good?  Are they serious enough to
demand our attention?  Or our action?  

Do we fight them?  Or change them?  Do we embrace them?  Or maybe ignore
them (that would be the easiest way)? 

 Are they inevitable?  Are they nothing more than natural progression?

Or, does it even make any difference?

Quite frankly, I personally see these disparities to be an overall major
issue that, to a large extent, determines the effectiveness of the Church
today and its delivery of the Gospel.  However, it is such an apparently
complex thing, that just the thought of it alone sometimes overwhelms me.
 I want to take the easy way out.  I want to just "do my thing" as God
has called me, and not bother.  

But then I discover that part of  "my thing" is to face some of these
disparities.  And, the only way I can handle it in my own mind is to
break it all down into digestible bites.  So ----

For an undeterminate number of letters, I want to try to sort some of
this out and perhaps discover some answers that will help both you and me
in our hunger after God and our desire to obey Him and minister to people
in their need.

So, the first issue at hand is . . . .



WHO CALLED YOU TO BE A PASTOR?

One of the factors that seemed to drive me to do these letters in the
first place was seeing and/or knowing lots of pastors in the ministry who
were not happy in their ministries.  As I remembered some of my own such
episodes, I knew ---- "if God has called me to be a pastor, why am I so
unhappy in it?"  In fact, one of the most significant experiences of my
entire spiritual life was preceded by a 1964 question that spewed out of
my mouth like angry vomit:  "God, is this all the more fun serving you is
going to be?!"   (That is not to presuppose that "fun" and "fulfillment"
are the same thing.)

I heard recently, as perhaps you did, that some 60% of pastors were
unhappy in their roles as pastors and would change if they had a chance. 
That same survey indicate that 90% of pastors' wives wished their
husbands did something else.

Those are incredible statistics, especially if we really believe it is
God who calls us into the Gospel ministry.  My wife is sitting in the
living room as I write, watching the women's half-pipe snow boarding
competition at the Winter Olympics.  She says she's doing it for our
three "adopted-from-Russia" grandchildren, but I'm wondering if she has
other motives.

It's my conclusion that being a  pastor in today's church is far more
dangerous than skimming up and down banks of snow, performing
body-buffetting gyrations, and being suspended in thin air for what seems
to be an eternity ---- all on a piece of wood or fiberglass maybe eight
inches wide and four feet long.

How can something like this be?  Is it God who actually calls us into
unhappy ministries?  Is it His intent to make our serving Him a
miserable, family-destroying, experience?  Does He really have the
"nerve" to lead us into a vocational setting that at first glance seems
to pit two fundamental Biblical concepts (a ministry with hardships, and
a family created to be happy and harmonious) in contradictory opposition
to each other?

Is it God's intent that we become so frustrated in our ministry that we
actually resent the people we have been called to serve, and even the
calling itself?  Or that we resent the fact that our wives resent what we
do?  Or even worse, that we have the gaul to resent even the very God who
called us?

I just can't believe our great God is One who initiates those types of
thoughts or occasions.

So ---- how do we deal with those feelings, if we've had them?  Just
"endure"?  Or perhaps we should just ignore them or suppress them.

Not on your life!  I think we need to start asking the right questions. 
Thanks to my good friend Ron Fisher, who helped me through a major
decision back in 1971, I've learned to bypass the questions of secondary
issues and "cut to the chase".  So, here are three questions I ask you,
especially if you are a pastor.  Forget about your circumstances.  Forget
about where you are.  Forget about the things you like and dislike about
being a pastor.  Forget about the people in your church whom you feel
create resistance or controversy.  Those are ALL secondary issues.

1.  First ---- HAS CHRIST CALLED YOU TO BE A PASTOR?  I didn't say, "are
you called to preach".  I asked are you called to be a PASTOR.  According
to Scripture, those two are not necessarily the same.  There are many
settings in which you can "preach" ---- pastoring is just one of them,
and is far more than simply preaching.

The primary functions of a pastor seem to be divided into two basic
functions  ---- shepherding and teaching.  In fact, in the New Testament,
all three words (pastor, shepherd, teacher) are often used
interchangeably.  However, the primary question at hand here is whether
or not You have been called to be a PASTOR.

1)  What Does A Pastor's Heart Look Like?
   A.  He has an insatiable hunger for God's Word.
   B.  He is a man of consistent prayer and the Word.
   C.  He is sharply conscious of others and their needs.
   D.  He cannot be quiet about the things of God.
   E.  He has a burning message to share with others.
   F.  He'd rather be caring for a local group of believers
	 more than anything else he can imagine.

2)  What Are A Pastor's Duties?
   A.  Equip the saints to minister (Eph 4:11-13).
   B.  Lead the saints into full maturity and unity (Eph 4:11-13).
   C.  Spend adequate time in prayer and the Word (Acts 6:2-4).
   D.  Guard against false teachers and false teachings
	 (II Tim 4:3; II Pet 2:1).
   E.  "Shepherd" the sheep (I Pet 5:2-3; John 21:15-17).
      A)  KNOW them (Jn 10:3-5).
      B)  Exercise oversight.
      C)  Lead ---- not "Drive"!
      D)  Feed the sheep good food.
      E)  Water  them with fresh water(Genesis 29:2-10).
      F)  Provide rest to them (Jer 33:12).
      G)  Defend and Protect from the "wolves", hirelings,
	 thieves, strangers, and false shepherds 
	(I Sam 17:34-36; John 10:1-13 ).
      H)  Keep Count of them (Jer 33:13) ---- the purpose of  
		the shepherd's rod).
       I)   Correct  them ---- (the purpose of the shepherd's rod).
      J)  Rescue them ---- the purpose of the shepherd's staff).
      K)  Shear them ---- Not SKIN them.
      L)  Search for the lost ones (Ezek 34:12-16; Luke 15:4-5).
      M)  Secure good pasture for them (I Chron 4:39-41).
 
It is obvious that the role of the pastor requires a unique and special
character and heart. 

 Do the above characteristics describe your heart?  

Forget about what your "system" has dictated.  Forget about what others
have determined to be the "job description" of a pastor.  This is what
Scripture teaches.  Is that what is in your heart?

If it isn't, then there are two final questions I need to ask you.

2.  WHAT, THEN, WERE YOU CALLED TO DO?  I am convinced that, at this time
of my life, I am clearly NOT to be a pastor.  My heart's vision is much
larger than a local congregation and community ---- it includes many
pastors, many churches, and many countries.  It would a tragic mistake
both for me and for a church,   And yet, my heart has been strangely
warmed and my hopes dramatically encouraged by the many men I've met in
recent months who have clearly been called to pastor.  

One new friend, Jim Hammock, exemplifies that.  A few months ago, as I
ministered in the church he pastors, he made it clear that he had
absolutely no desire to go out a do meetings in other churches the way
all of us in itinerant ministry do.  His heart was with his people.  I
can name literally scores of men I know personally who exemplify the call
of the pastor.  They are truly a special group.  They have no desire to
be known as great orators, administrators, or conference speakers.  They
just want to be on the slopes and in the valley of their mountain range
with the flock God has given them in the fold built for His sheep.

And, there is absolutely no higher calling in all the Gospel ministry
than that of a pastor.  

So, if you were not called to be a pastor, then what WERE you called to
be?  If you are not a pastor, then, dear friend, for the sake of the
kingdom, the church, and yourself, please get out of the pastorate.  If
God has called you into vocational ministry, then He has a specific and
special place for you.  Don't ruin your life, your family, your
relationships, and your future by continuing in something that is not of
God.  Perhaps you are to be in a staff position, or in the chaplaincy, or
evangelism, or missions, or something else.

Don't settle for something Less than what God has called you to.

3.  If not God, then WHO CALLED YOU?  This final question is equally as
serious and troublesome as the first two.  During my very first
pastorate, after nearly thirteen years in staff work, I was faced with
that question.  A fine young man from my church, attending an excellent
Christian university and preparing for the pastorate, called me on the
phone less than two months after I became a pastor, and asked for an
appointment.

When he arrived, it was obvious he was troubled. He came from a wonderful
Christian family, and was part of a very supportive church.  His first
words startled me ---- "Bob, God has not called me to preach.  My mother
did."  In actuality, she really didn't, but he knew the desire of her
heart that her three children serve the Lord.  In his desire to bring joy
to her heart, he allowed his own commitment  to bless her widow's heart
with a son in the ministry influence him to form  a conclusion that was
not of God.

With my full support and encouragement, he had the courage to announce to
the church his conviction.  The church joyfully affirmed him and his
mother, and gracefully received back his license to preach and his
ordination papers.  He now serves, less than 200 miles from where I live,
as an active member of a local church, providing mature leadership in
many ways.  Incidentally, his little sister became a pastor's wife, and
his little brother became a pastor.

HAS CHRIST CALLED YOU TO BE A PASTOR?  Then praise the Lord, cinch up
your belt, put on a new set of running and plodding shoes, and HANG IN
THERE!  Your future reward is absolutely incredible!

If not the pastorate, WHAT WERE YOU CALLED TO DO?  If you're pastoring,
WHY?  If you're not doing what you were called to do, WHY NOT?

If God didn't call you into ANY kind of vocational ministry WHO DID? 
And, ---- WHY ARE YOU STILL DOING IT?

While we often do, God Never makes mistakes. And, He is compassionate and
generous to those who confess their mistakes.

The work of the kingdom and the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ are both
big enough to include YOU!  Whatever and however God uses you. 
Regardless of whether or not your ministry is "vocational", you still
have a ministry!  Whether it is a "fully funded" or "bi-vocational" or
"laity" ministry, it is to be a ministry to which God called you.

Don't miss it!  It's a   f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c  life!

Be Encouraged, good friend!

In Christ's Bond,

Bob Tolliver
Life Unlimited Ministries
ADDRESS:  Route 1, Box 87AB, Collins, MO 64738
Ph: 417-275-4854.   Fax: 417-275-4855
E-mail: lifeunlimited@...

Copyright February, 1998 by Robert A. Tolliver.  All rights reserved.
Permission is granted to share this newsletter, will full credits, to
whomever would be encouraged by it.

PAST ISSUES OF 'SHOULDER TO SHOULDER"  (In case you missed or lost one,
just ask.)
1-971223 ---- "There Were Shepherds"
1-980106 ---- "Casualties and Fallout"
2-980112 ---- "Speak To Your Mountain"
0-980113 ---- "Who Is Life Unlimited Ministries"
0-980116 ---- "Resources Available"
3-980119 ---- "Take Me Back"
4-980126 ---- "The Wounded Warrior"
5-980131 ---- "The Wife Of A Minister"
0-980211 ---- "God Loves You" Greeting



If you wish to continue receiving "Shoulder To Shoulder", do nothing. 
However, if you would like to be dropped from the mailing list, please
let us know.  We don't want to burden you unnecessarily with things you
don't want to receive.  Simply e-mail us at the address above, and we'll
drop you immediately.

If you know of someone who might be blessed by this letter, please
forward it on.  Or, you can send us their e-mail address, and we'll add
it to the regular mailing list.



SPECIAL MINISTRY OPPORTUNITY

We are in need of preachers, "practical helps" servants, and skilled
craftsmen to accompany us on two trips to Croatia this year ---- one May
28-June 18, and the other in October.  If you have an interest, please
contact us for details.
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