I’ve come to appreciate this wise advice Samuel Miller gave to a young pastor laboring in a town called Frederick in 1854. I’ve taken the word “Frederick” out of the quote and left it blank so fellow pastors can apply it to their own location:
I was especially gratified with the evidence that you begin to feel yourself at home in ______. No man will be likely to be very useful to any people to whom he does not feel bound by the ties, not only of pastoral relation but also of pastoral affection; and no one will be likely to feel much of this toward a people among whom he regards himself as only a temporary sojourner, and from whom he means to escape as soon as he can.
If you wish to benefit your flock spiritually, and, at the same time to gain spiritual and theological strength yourself, regard them as your beloved people; try more and more to take an interest in them, and resolve, in the fear of God, to stay as long with them as Providence shall make it your duty to stay. Depend upon it, and you will find work enough to do in _______ to employ all your strength…. Let me beg you then to sit down contented and cheerful to your work in ______, resolved if it be the will of God, to spend many years, or even your life there.”
I agree, and I’m doing my best to follow Miller’s advice. This is an important topic in our celebrity culture where pastors might be tempted to move to a bigger congregation in a bigger city with bigger venues. I suppose it has to do with being content, as Miller noted. Pastors too are called to be content where God puts them – urban, suburban, or rural. Wherever the Lord leads, there we serve and there we show Christian love and pastoral care to God’s people – as long as the Lord wills!
The above quote is found in a letter by Samuel Miller, found in James Garretson, An Able and Faithful Ministry p.324.