The title of this blog post is the title of chapter 8 in Jason Helopoulos’ new book, The New Pastors Handbook. In the beginning of the chapter Jason shares of the simplicity of baseball as it relates to ministry. He writes, “Pastoral Ministry resembles baseball. Both endeavors are quite simple, yet we can make them overly complex….Ministry is nothing more than loving Christ, loving his people, and loving the Word.” (Helopoulos, 58) These three loves transcend every part of pastoral ministry; visitation, evangelism, counseling, discipleship, and preaching. The rest of the chapter explains the simplicity of these three loves in the context of local church ministry.
First, pastors are to love Christ. Jesus is the both the aim and purpose of our ministries. He writes, “We are singularly focused on giving glory to God in the person of Christ (I Cor. 10:31)…Our love for Christ directs, forms, and propels our entire ministry.” (Helopoulos, 58)
Second, pastors are to love His people (The Church). The example of Jesus and Peter in John 21:17 is a great example of how love for Christ cannot be divorced from love for his church. Jesus asked, “Do you love me? Peter responds, “Yes, Lord”. Jesus responds to Peter, “Feed my sheep”. Helopoulos writes, “We can wax eloquent about the hypostatic union and the Parousia, but without love we are nothing more than a ‘noisy gong or a clanging symbol’ (I Cor. 13:1)”.
Finally, we must love the Word of Christ. As ministers of the gospel, we must distinguish between the weight of God’s words of ours and others. His Word is supreme and eternal. God’s word is the salve for the soul of the human. Helopoulos writes, “We have no greater gift to offer those under our care, for nothing can minister to them like the Word of God. No self-help talks, spiritual incantations, practical advice, or earthly wisdom sufficiently attends to the maladies of their souls.” (Helopoulos, 59)
He concludes by sharing that too often ministry can become complex and confusing. We must work hard not to lose sight of our calling in the midst of the chaos and noise. A love for Christ, a love for His church, and a love for the Word will dissolve the complexities and refine our work for the kingdom of God. Helopoulos concludes, “When love for Christ, for his people, and his Word dominates our motivations and actions, everything falls into place. Keep your ministry simple, focused, and God-glorifying by keeping it centered on this threefold tapestry of love.” (Helopoulos, 59)