Ephes. 3:7 (ESV)
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power.
Paul was made a minister of the Gospel by the gift of God’s grace. It is a gift to be a minister of the gospel, a great and wonderful gift. One could go on about what a splendid job it is. I for one am happily employed in it, and think myself rich for it. I sometimes question if it is properly called work or a job. I enjoy what I do to much to consider it work, and I imagine Paul felt the same. My job consists mainly in prayer and devotion (Acts 6:4), and visiting people. I have a study not an office, a cubby hole I sit in and study God’s word, and often not with a thought about what I might say on Sunday. I take Bo Giertz’s advice: study for yourself, you will never be without something to tell your congregation on Sunday morning. (That isn’t an exact quote) I think that advice spares me from burnout. I read theological books, blog more than maybe I should. I translate great theological thinkers from Sweden and Germany. I go and visit with people. I used to do most of this stuff anyway, the difference was I had to wait until after work to pursue my interests.
But I am not sure all that has anything to do with the way Paul is here talking. Paul was a scandal in many ways. He persecuted the church putting Christians to death before he was called by the grace of God to be a minister of the Gospel. He was a sinner, and remained one according to Romans 7. Some would have you believe they are pastors by virtue of the way they live their life. I don’t know about them, but I live my life as a sinner. Pastors sin. Pastors can’t stand on their own righteousness as the basis for their ministry. We are pastors by the grace of God, the gospel is efficacious, beneficial, able to do its work, not on the basis of who we are, but on the basis of Christ. Pastors have to live on the same forgiveness of sins they proclaim to their people. Forgiveness is the gift by which Paul was made a minister of the Gospel. So it is for all ministers of the Gospel.