A Pastor’s Ponderings: My Prayer for You—True Transformation

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Doug Stauffer head shot 2023By Pastor Doug Stauffer

In this world of uncertainty and instability, hope can seem fleeting. Yet, the spirit-led visionary greets each new day, month and year with unwavering hope and resolute purpose. As Christmas approaches and a New Year beckons, God expects pastors to inspire awe concerning the birth of the Saviour and anticipated New year, New beginnings. New Year’s resolutions are steeped in tradition with a universal desire for self-improvement and optimistic fresh starts. Too often, they contain unrealistic expectations with fleeting commitments, resulting in disappointment and a sense of failure. Been there; done that?

Pastors have a unique role during this time of celebration and resolution-making. God tasks pastors with shepherding their congregations through the sacred remembrance of Christ’s birth and His death, burial and resurrection. Most of all, we must offer light to those seeking direction for the coming year. The past helps develop our future.

Fortunately, my path to ministry did not begin inside the church walls, but beyond them—serving those in nursing homes and rescue missions, broadcasting over the radio and reaching into the confines of juvenile detention centers, jails and prisons. After a decade of this expansive outreach, my calling blossomed into pulpits, where I ultimately found myself amidst congregations nationwide and worldwide. This sacred space, teeming with diverse souls, has been a profound challenge, necessitating a careful balance between uplifting words and words that might unintentionally alienate or cause harm.

In our world of endless information, the timeless wisdom of the Bible offers true clarity. Isaiah understood the power of words to provide rest for the weary, “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary” (Isaiah 50:4a). This is what every pastor strives to do: to speak the right words at the right time. A supernatural feat indeed, “but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26b).

As we prepare for holiday festivities and the prospect of a new start with the new year, the pastor must diligently uphold the Bible’s authority and expressed guidance. We need to tell the story of Jesus and call for Christians to take this opportunity to renew their faith, first and foremost.

Being a preacher and pastor is about sharing God’s wisdom, not just with words, but with understanding and action. Delivering “a word in season” is inherently sensitive, infused with the capacity to revive spirits or, if ill-timed, to deepen wounds. Preaching is all about knowing when to speak to lift spirits or convict hearts, always conscious of the impact our words can have. Proverbs tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21a). Pastors must be ever mindful of the grave responsibility accompanying our words.

Following Christ’s example of kindness, pastors aim to provide comfort and hope, much like Jesus did (Matthew 11:28-30). We must strive to speak with the love and kindness that come from God, knowing that our words can profoundly impact others, for better or worse. When a preacher speaks, the words can stir an array of reactions, from igniting a transformative faith to provoking, as in the case of Judas, a betrayal veiled in a gesture of affection.

The joy of a pastor comes from speaking the truth and offering encouragement at just the right moment. “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23). The work of a pastor is to find these moments and to speak with a balance of wisdom and care, blending timeless truths with timely guidance. I pray that this celebratory season for you is marked by less tradition and an abundance of true, Christ-induced transformation.

Dr. Doug Stauffer is pastor of Faith Independent Baptist Church. He was saved July 6, 1980, in Niceville, while stationed at the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base and has now been in the ministry for over 35 years.