Interview: Inexperienced Young Pastor Hungry for Learning to Feed the Flock

The Bible
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By Christine Lau October 24th, 2023

An effective pastoral ministry for believers is a challenging endeavor. While senior pastors in churches may handle it with ease, young pastors with restricted experience encounter difficulties.

Sha Mai (pseudonym), is a young pastor originating from western China, with his birth year tracing back to the 1980s. He told the Chinese online newspaper Christian Times that he embarked upon his pastoral vocation at a tender age. Following in his parents' footsteps, he transitioned from a rural upbringing to an urban environment. He was exposed to the simplicity of rural life and the efficiency and convenience of city living, yet none of these aspects seemed to resonate with him.

Academic pursuits came naturally to him; he excelled in his studies. After high school, he seamlessly gained admission to a prestigious university. However, as he was on the brink of pursuing a Ph.D., he made a perplexing decision—to become a minister. It appeared as if this was the most compelling path for him.

Initially, the decision to forgo a Ph.D. greatly perturbed his parents. In an effort to explain his choice, he dedicated time to communicate with them and analyze the contemporary job market. He clarified that obtaining a Ph.D. did not necessarily guarantee a promising career. As he embarked on family life with children and stability, his parents gradually relinquished their concerns and began to support his decision.

As a full-time pastor in the church, tending to the spiritual needs of the congregation constituted one of Sha Mai's principal duties. In addition, he led church groups on a weekly basis and engaged in diverse church ministries, including prayer, preaching, and leadership. Although his responsibilities were varied and abundant, he found fulfillment in them. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that his relative lack of practical experience and youthful age left him feeling inadequate when guiding believers.

"At times, believers approach me with work-related challenges and dilemmas," Sha Mai candidly stated. "During such moments, it is a formidable task for me to dispense constructive counsel. After all, I embarked on my journey as a servant of God immediately after completing my academic studies, without substantial work experience."

Faced with such challenges, Sha did not succumb to a sense of helplessness. Instead, he sought to compensate for his limitations through diligent learning. He frequently immersed himself in literature pertaining to the workplace, economics, management, and business, firmly believing that the pursuit of knowledge through reading was an invaluable tool in his pastoral work.

Furthermore, he maintained that the crux of resolving any predicament lay in comprehending and imparting the essence of the gospel.

"Understanding the gospel in its true essence enables me to engage in profound dialogue with Christian believers," Sha emphasized. "Although it might appear to be a commonplace notion, it lies at the heart of the solution."

"This does not imply that I furnish immediate advice when believers approach me with disagreements and conflicts involving their employers," he continued. "Rather, I guide believers back to the core of the gospel, aiding them in understanding the true nature of God before addressing their workplace challenges. When God is at work within a person's heart, anxiety and apprehension dissipate."

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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