That's what we were told in the teacher prep class at college:
If you are teaching your class and the teacher suddenly enters the room and quietly steps into the background to observe, continue with what you have done. Teach this lesson as if you know more about it than anyone else on earth.
If you do a good job, the children may not remember you for years to come, but they will bring skills and knowledge that will make them better people for the rest of their lives. "If you can read this, thank a teacher."
If you're in this job for the money, find another job. Over time, society can recognize the true value of what you are doing, but don't hold your breath.
Your work does not begin or end with the ringing of the bell. This is a calling, and it affects your whole life.
You are a factor in an endless series of people who pass it on. Someone has taught you. But someone taught those who taught you. Those you teach today will teach others again. Do not be the weak link in this precious chain.
Now, apply this to the church and those called:
You suddenly find yourself in a situation where the dignitaries look in your direction and the live TV cameras roll and you do what you have done - that is, preaching the gospel. What to do? Preach it as you always do.
I was 30 years old and the newest coworker of the largest and most prestigious church in the state. The congregation I had previously pastored had a little over 200 visitors. Soon after my arrival, late on Saturday evening, my pastor called and said that I should be ready to step in for him the next day, that he was coming up with something. The next morning I preach in a fully occupied shrine with governors sitting in front of me, a confessional leadership of the state in the pews and live TV cameras broadcasting this service throughout the state. I preached as if I had done it every day of my life.
I was glad I didn't get two weeks before the preparation.
Remember, this is not about you
Your task is not to build a fan community or anchor your name anywhere. You are the servant of whom our Lord Jesus spoke, who walked and urged people to prepare for the marriage feast in the king's residence (Mt 22:3, 8).
It is not about you.
A seminar student who interviewed the renowned pastor Dr. Frank Pollard asked: "When it's all over, how can you be remembered?" The pastor replied: "I don't want to be remembered. I'm just a messenger."
If you do your work well, the people whose lives you touch will continue to touch the world for Jesus Christ. That will be an abundance of rewards. Whether they even remember your name is irrelevant.
Not because of dishonest gains
As a rule, pastors today are paid much better than in previous years. Some of the celebrities are told that they receive a king's ransom. But I suppose this has always been the case.
When I started in the 1960s, a pastor could live with a pastorium of 100 dollars a week. Our denomination's pension plan guaranteed an income of $100/month in the distant future, I remember. This now seems to be like horse and buggy days.
We are grateful for churches that pay well. But thousands of pastors are bivocative, either voluntarily or out of necessity.
Paul said to Timothy, "The elders who govern well should be worthy of double glory, especially those who work according to word and doctrine. For Scripture says, "Thou shalt not silence an ox that goeth out of the grain", and "The worker is worthy of his reward" (1Ti 5:17-18).
On the other hand, we are told to "guard the flock of God which is among you, to take care of it, not by coercion, but voluntarily, not for dishonest gain, but zealously" (1 Peter 5:2).
Your whole life belongs to the ministry to which you were called. No part of your life is taboo for God's vigilance or the care of the church.
A faithful pastor will find preaching illustrations while taking his family to Disney World, will serve while participating in his college football game, and will gain spiritual strength while relaxing on the backyard hammock. Wherever he goes and whatever he does, he is always at work.
Don't get too comfortable.
You will pass this service on to someone else sooner or later. So don't get too attached to your position or possessive. You will go.
A friend who did intermediate service in churches would proclaim, "I have come to go." With this he wanted to dispel any idea (or fear) that he was trying to set up a permanent residence. When he said this to our church, I agreed and said, "We have all come to go. The day will come when all the coworkers will pass the work on to someone else and carry on.
After a dozen years in church, I left. The pastor who followed me stayed about 15 years. And the pastor who followed him is now in his 16th year. One day he will continue and God will send someone else. The goal is to serve so well that those who come behind us will find us faithful.
If we do a good job, we will raise young people and adults who will follow in our footsteps and hear God's call and also go out to spread the gospel.