By Rob Hurtgen
Sweat was dripping from his brow. The furnace roared behind him. Methodically and with purpose in every blow, the blacksmith forged the metal into the shape he wanted.
His apprentice carefully looked on, receiving instruction with every strike of the hammer. “He’s more than just a producer of metal objects,” the apprentice thought of his teacher.
“He’s a craftsman.”
Much like blacksmiths, pastors are craftsmen—rising to their calling from a burning within their bones to strike the hammer of ministry.
Paul delivers this instruction to pastor craftsmen, “Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Here are three ways pastors must see themselves as a craftsmen.
1. Craftsmen approach their work with precision.
As craftsmen, pastors open the pages of Scripture and diligently apply the tools of their trade to understand what the Word says and how to communicate its meaning to the people they shepherd.
Just as blacksmiths know with precision where to strike and how much force to use, pastor craftsmen precisely divide the Word, correctly teaching the whole counsel of God.
All aspects of pastoral ministry—including preaching the gospel, evangelizing the lost, and equipping the saints—demand precision. They require careful attention to every step, every process, and every product.
2. Craftsmen intentionally dispense their trade to future generations.
Craftsmen are more than just workers. They labor and lead their apprentices to do the same work, regularly working through a four-part process. First, they show their apprentices the way the work is done.
Teachers then allow their apprentices to work alongside them. Next, craftsmen observe their apprentices working. And finally, they send them out to do the work they’ve trained for. Craftsmen make disciples of their trade.
Paul poured himself into Timothy by encouraging him, correcting him, building skill within him, and giving him the opportunity to use his gifts and training. Pastor craftsmen pour their lives into others, who will teach others still. Seek someone who can pour into your life as you pour your life into another.
3. Craftsmen prioritize the process of their labor.
Excellent craftsmen don’t short the process of their trade. Blacksmiths know if they cut corners, their product will fail. The process matters.
The pastoral calling of 2 Timothy 2:15 is first to present oneself to God and then to diligently teach. Pastor craftsmen present themselves before God humbly, repentantly, and with complete surrender.
There are too many stories of abuse, neglect, and infidelity in pastoral ministry. Pastors, first “present yourself before God.” This process of pastoral ministry cannot be bypassed.
Striving for Craftsmanship
Like the approach taken by blacksmiths, the craft of pastoral ministry must be tackled with precision, care, and diligence. As Matthew Crawford says in the book Shop Class as Soulcraft, “Craftsmanship means dwelling on a task for a long time and going deeply into it, because you want to get it right.”
Pastoral calling is a high calling. Pastor craftsmen labor diligently, with joy, working to get it right.
ROB HURTGEN (@robhurtgen) is husband to Shawn, father of five, pastor of First Baptist Church Chillicothe, Missouri, and earned his doctorate at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also blogs at RobHurtgen.wordpress.com.