There exists a type of serenity that defies quantification in terms of volume and decibel measurements. It embodies a spiritual essence within individuals, commencing with humility and maturing through prayer and obedience to the divine will of God. Pastors possessing such qualities do not rush ahead of the Holy Spirit but instead, conduct themselves in a manner pleasing to God, aligned with His intentions.
In a recent interview conducted by the Christian Times, an online Christian Chinese newspaper, Pastor Xie Xiaotian (pseudonym) from eastern China discussed the importance of pastors cultivating a state of tranquility. As Protestantism has evolved, numerous denominations have emerged, rendering the task of achieving unity among pastors of different denominations a formidable challenge. The Chinese church, too, faces the daunting obstacle of fostering unity.
In this regard, Pastor Xie asserts, "The inability of churches to progress towards unity and depth today does not primarily stem from theological knowledge and reasoning but rather from the spiritual restlessness of pastors. Quietness is not merely an external behavioral norm, but an authentic spiritual discipline in Christ. While many pastors aspire for unity within the body of Christ, the prerequisite for such unity is for each pastor to first find quietness in God, allowing the Holy Spirit to genuinely reign within them. Regrettably, some pastors place more value on theology, sectarianism, and personal success than on God. Such deviations and ambitions hinder the church from attaining true unity."
When a church confronts significant challenges, it becomes evident whether a pastor's spirituality is characterized by tranquility. If the pastor relies solely on personal wisdom, abilities, and experience to assess and resolve these challenges, it signifies a lack of quietness. However, if the pastor remains calm and approaches the issues of the moment through scripture reading, prayer, and attentive listening to others, a state of quietness is present, as Pastor Xie highlighted.
For instance, Pastor Xie explains, "Pastors are the group that stands to benefit the most from learning to be quiet, and the purpose behind it is to conserve energy. When a car runs out of fuel, one must go to a gas station for refueling. In doing so, the first step is to turn off the engine, which is a quiet process. Similarly, when a pastor encounters a significant matter, immediate resolution may not be possible. It is akin to the car running out of fuel, necessitating a collective pause. The essence of quieting down lies in the recognition that it is no longer the pastor who initiates action for God, but rather God who accomplishes great things for the pastor. Those who fail to attain spiritual quietness essentially reject God's reign within their ministry."
How should pastors act when they have new visions, benchmarks, and plans? Sometimes they start a ministry with a fiery start because they do not get to the root of the problem or because they start quickly, but sometimes they start all over again.
As to how pastors should conduct themselves when they receive new visions, benchmarks, and plans, they may initiate a ministry with great enthusiasm, yet fail to address the root cause of the issue or act hastily, resulting in the need to start afresh.
Pastor Xie shared, “If a person is an alcoholic, ostensibly he has an addiction to alcohol. If pastors see this phenomenon and start a ministry to get rid of alcohol addiction, it is, however, not always the best option. But if the pastor can quietly seek God's will before God, he can see that addiction is not the root of the problem. If the root problem is not solved, that person will have other addictions even if alcoholism is cured. So, alcoholism is only superficial, and the root cause might lie in the couple’s relationship. On the premise of unforgiveness, the man chooses to drink heavily in order to escape the pain in the relationship. The root cause is that there is a problem with the person’s spiritual health, and the key is whether the pastor can get the power in quietness to tackle the root.”
- Translated by Charlie Li