By Tom Campisi, publisher of tristatevoice.com
Dr. David Ireland exhorted local pastors to “expect God’s provision, accept His guidance, and enjoy His comfort” during the Seventh Annual Pastors’ Appreciation Breakfast hosted by Pillar College.
Ireland, the senior pastor of Christ Church in Rockaway and Montclair, New Jersey, spoke from Psalm 23 in a message entitled “Leading During Uncertain Times.”
This year’s Pastors’ Appreciation Breakfast was hosted online by Pillar due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In previous years, the event was held at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark.
Dr. Wayne Dyer, Vice President of Strategic Alliances at Pillar College, opened the Zoom meeting by saying, “We know the last few months have been stress filled for pastors and we want to acknowledge the work you do and provide some words of encouragement and challenge.”
“October is Pastors’ Appreciation Month and the call to honor our church leaders can be traced back to the Apostle Paul, who advised congregations of the first churches to give double honor ‘to the elders who direct the affairs of the church, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching’ (1 Tim. 5:17). Paul further urged Christians ‘to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.’ (1 Thess. 5:12)”
Dr. David Schroeder, president of Pillar College, called the pastors “fellow soldiers in the Lord’s army.”
“God has given you as a gift to the Church as He said in Ephesians 4.”
Dr. Schroeder also invited the gathered clergy to attend Pillar’s weekly MasterWorks PEERS (Pastors Encouraging Equipping Resourcing Supporting) zoom call, held Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.
In his keynote address to pastors, Dr. Ireland opened by stressing the importance of leadership during these unpredictable times of a global pandemic and racial, political, and economical unrest.
“If we are not careful, we can find ourselves hopeless instead of hope-filled,” he said.
“You need to have a good perspective—you influence the perspective of others. Too many people depend on us. The welfare of the sheep depends on the type of shepherd you are.”
Dr. Ireland said hope and insights for leading can be found in Psalm 23.
“I read it often because it is my North Star on how to shepherd the flock during uncertain times…David had to walk through uncertain times in Psalm 23. He was fleeing from his son Absalom, and there was social, political, and economical unrest.”
Dr. Ireland Highlighted three of the psalm’s verses:
The Lord is my shepherd; I lack nothing (Psalm 23:1).
“We should expect God’s provision,” said Dr. Ireland.
The pastor of Christ Church for 35 years noted how King David personalized God as “my God” in the text. He also encouraged the pastors to view the truth of God’s provision in light of His promise to His covenantal people.
“The challenges we face (today) are deeper,” he said. “David placed his expectation on God’s faithfulness, and not on his economic or leadership strengths.”
He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters. (Psalm 23:2).
“We need to accept God’s guidance. The job of the shepherd is to keep the sheep on the move,” said Dr. Ireland, who noted how sheep prefer to graze in familiar spots, but a good shepherd will keep them mobile to avoid the parasites and infestations of worn grass and root systems.
“We cannot lead the sheep by their wants and preferences. [However], we should not be despotic [leaders]. People need the whole counsel of God. We have to teach the sheep to listen to God’s voice. In times of uncertainty, we need to accept God’s guidance.”
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
“In the dark valleys, where the wolves and predators are, we have to gain comfort that comes from God,” Dr. Ireland said. “The defenseless sheep are trusting you to lead them through the dark valleys. They are looking for what you have to say…We have to help them forge through.”
“We must not forget that God uses good and bad times develop us into His Holy people. God can use disruptive innovation during uncertain times…When you don’t understand what’s going on, you must be able to say, ‘God I trust you. I am going to enjoy God’s comfort.’ ”
To view Pillar College’s Pastors’ Appreciate Breakfast Zoom Meeting, click this link.
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