Paul Trip writes: Pastor, many things nip away at your attention and schedule. You know many people who love you and have a wonderful plan for your life. You know that many conflicting motivations, thoughts, and desires give shape to your life and ministry. Sometimes you lose sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing. So this question is vital: do you live with singleness of focus? Is your life and ministry shaped, structured, and directed by the pursuit of one glorious, fulfilling, heart-satisfying thing? We don’t live by instinct. Our lives are directed by the thoughts and motives of our hearts. We are always interpreting, and we are always desiring. We live in perpetual pursuit of something. We are always evaluating our progress toward that thing we think will give us life. We are always in the service of some kind of dream. Maybe this is the best way to say it: in every moment of life and
I love this from Jared Wilson: Something instructive about the way God glorifies himself in the gospel power available to trusters in him found in YHWH’s call on Moses. We can break down Moses’ five objections/questions and God’s five responses this way: 1. Who am I to go for you? Never mind who you are. That’s irrelevant. 2. Who are you for me to go for you? I am GOD. 3. What if they don’t believe me? It’s not your accomplishments you’re testifying to, but mine. Here, have some miracles. 4. Me no talk good. I use junk and jackasses all the time. 5. Send somebody else! I’ll send somebody with you, not instead of you. So now we can make 5 basic assumptions about the way God uses Christians to bring glory to himself. Here are the basic qualifications to be used by God: 1. First, be a nobody. 2. Secondly, don’t worry about your accomplishments or ability to persuade: what God has
“If you knew the satisfaction of performing a duty as well as the gratitude to God which the missionary must always feel in being chosen for so noble and sacred a calling, you would have no hesitation in embracing it. For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. . . . Anxiety, sickness, suffering or danger now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not to talk when we remember the great sacrifice which He made, who
“Dear Gentlemen, With unspeakable pleasure have I heard that there seems to be a general concern amongst you about the Things of God. . . . What great things may we now expect to see in New England, since it has pleased God to work so remarkably among the Sons of the Prophets? Now we may expect a reformation indeed, since it is beginning at the house of God. A dead Ministry will always make a dead People. Whereas if ministers are warmed with the love of God themselves, they cannot but be instruments of diffusing that love amongst others. This, this is the best preparation for the work whereunto you are to be called. Learning without piety will only render you more capable of promoting the kingdom of the devil. Henceforward therefore I hope you will enter into your studies, not to get a parish, not to be a polite preacher, but to be a great saint. . .
(HT: Dane Ortlund) Recently C.J. Mahaney completed a series of blog posts entitled “The Pastor and Personal Criticism.” They are well worth the read. 1. The Pastor and Personal Criticism 2. The Pastor’s Temptations when Criticism Arrives 3. Learning Wisdom by Embracing Criticism 4. A Kind and Painful Bruising 5. The Pastor’s Wife and Her Role When Criticism Arrives 6. Adding a Few Smudges to My Moral Portrait 7. Deal Gently with Your Critics 8. Why Faithful Pastors Will Be Criticized 9. Too High an Estimation 10. Distinguishing Criticism 11. How to Criticize Your Pastor (And Honor God) (HT: Todd Pruitt)
1 Corinthians 2:2: For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Roy Ciampa and Brian Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians (Eerdmans, 2010), page 114: In contrast to “the wise” in Corinth and in the church, who could expatiate endlessly on all sorts of subjects, all Paul wanted to talk about was “the cross of Christ” (1:17). On first blush this may seem rather narrow and limited. After all, Paul spent eighteen months in Corinth and would have engaged in pastoral work alongside evangelism. However, as 1 Corinthians 1:10–4:17 itself demonstrates, for Paul even the most practical ills, such as divisions and problems of leadership in the church, are remedied by focusing on the cross. For Paul, Christ crucified is more than just the means of forgiveness and salvation; rather, it informs his total vision of the Christian life and ministry. (HT: Tony Reinke)
From Justin Buzzard: God wants content discontent leaders. God wants content leaders, leaders who are deeply happy in God. It’s hard to follow someone who is perpetually unhappy and pessimistic. And, God wants discontent leaders, leaders who are deeply unhappy with the status quo and whose veins course with a passion to make things different. Don’t overplay contentment. Every great leader is a content discontent leader.
For my UK readers a quick reminder about the forthcoming Life in the Spirit leaders conference. There are still a few places left. If you are interested in the faithful and inspiring exposition of Scripture, and value the powerful dynamic of the Holy Spirit, plus the rich fellowship of others in Church leadership, then this is a conference not to be missed. Click here for details and booking information.
From 9Marks: The Bible. A pastor’s first priority is to preach the Word (2 Tim. 4:2). A pastor-in-training’s first priority should be to study the Word. Holiness. The primary qualifications for an elder are moral and spiritual (1 Tim. 3:2-7). A pastor is to shepherd his people by his own example (1 Pet. 5:3). Therefore a man pursuing the ministry must diligently seek after consistent, hard-fought holiness. Humility. To shepherd God’s flock you must follow Jesus’ example in serving, rather than being served (Mk. 10:45). Humility must be a distinguishing mark of an under-shepherd of God’s sheep. How to preach. Since preaching is the main work of a pastor, a pastor-in-training should seek every possible opportunity to preach. He should also solicit the criticism and advice of experienced pastors. How to disciple. In order to be a pastor, a man should know how to personally instruct, encourage, counsel, comfort, and rebuke his fellow Christians. Not only that, but in order to
From Jared Wilson: Evangelicalism suffers under the leadership of those who treat ministry like a technology and church like a business. The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren . . . Pastoral authority can be attained only by the servant of Jesus who seeks no power of his own, who himself is a brother among brothers to the authority of the Word. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer I discovered the spending a day reading thrity pages of Karl Barth’sDogmatics helped me more in my pastoral work than a hundred of pages of how-to literature. In my church history reading I ran into a biography of a pastor, The Life of Alexander Whyte; a personal narrative of a pastor, The Letters of Samuel Rutherford; and a fictional account of a pastor, Father Zossima in Feodor Dostyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov . . . These books helped me a lot. But I didn’t know why stories about pastors who lived centuries
From Brian Croft: What is a common, yet unbiblical way a pastor evaluates his ministry? There are numerous ideas that could qualify for an answer, but the one I have in mind proves to be a most harmful one. I recently received word of a Senior Pastor who was questioning his own faithfulness as a shepherd, evangelist, preacher, and even his faithfulness to the gospel because of this common, yet unbiblical method of evaluation. A common, yet flawed, harmful, and unbiblical way for a pastor to evaluate his ministry is when it is based on… “Numbers” It is amazing how much we have succumbed to evaluating our ministries and our effectiveness as pastors on the basis of a numbers game. I would hope we all want to see more and more people hear the gospel, follow Jesus, and be baptized. I would hope we all want to see more people come to our churches and hear God’s Word preached and to experience the loving fellowship of our people. If
Writes Eckhard J. Schnabel in his chef-d’œuvre, Early Christian Mission, Volume 2: Paul and the Early Church (IVP, 2004), pages 1574-1575: “I submit that the use of the term ‘incarnational’ is not very helpful to describe the task of authentic Christian missionary work. The event of the coming of Jesus into the world is unique, unrepeatable and incomparable, making it preferable to use other terminology to express the attitudes and behavior that Paul describes in 1 Cor 9:19-23. The Johannine missionary commission in Jn 20:21 does not demand an ‘incarnation’ of Jesus’ disciples but rather their obedience, unconditional commitment and robust activity in the service of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is precisely John who describes the mission of Jesus as unique: Jesus is the ‘only’ Son (Jn 1:14, 18; 3:14, 18), he is preexistent (Jn 1:1, 14), his relationship to the Father is unparalleled (Jn 1:14, 18). For John, it is not the manner of
I like this from Colin Adams: From Ephesians 3:7-11: 1. Gospel ministers are God-made. “Of this gospel I was made a minister” (v 7, ESV) 2. Gospel ministers are servants. “I became a servant [diakonos] of this gospel” (v 7) 3. Gospel ministers serve by God’s grace. “I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me” (v 7) “…this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles…” (v 8 ) 4. Gospel ministers serve by God’s power. “…through the working of His power” (v 7) 5. Gospel ministers preach Christ. “…to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (v 8 ) 6. Gospel ministers explain the mystery. “…and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.” (v 9) 7. Gospel ministers contribute towards God’s greater purposes. “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the
Richard Pratt in explaining how seminary should change: The agenda of evangelical seminaries is set primarily by scholars. Professors decide how students will spend their time; they determine students’ priorities; they set the pace. And guess what. Scholars’ agenda seldom match the needs of the church. Can you imagine what kind of soldiers our nation would have if basic training amounted to reading books, listening to lectures, writing papers, and taking exams? We’d have dead soldiers. The first time a bullet wizzed past their heads on the battlefield, they’d panic. The first explosion they saw would send them running. So, what is basic training for the military? Recruits learn the information they need to know, but this is a relatively small part of their preparation. Most of basic training is devoted to supervised battle simulation. Recruits are put through harrowing emotional and physical stress. They crawl under live bullet fire. They practice hand to hand combat. If I could wave a
From The Crucifixion of Ministry by Andrew Purves: To ministers, let me say this as strongly as I can: preach Christ, preach Christ, preach Christ. Get out of your offices and get into your studies. Quit playing office manager and program director, quit staffing committee’s, and even right now recommit yourselves to what you were ordained to do, namely the ministry of Word and sacraments. Pick up good theology books again: hard books, classical texts, great theologians. Claim the energy and time to study for days and days at a time. Disappear for long hours because you are reading Athanasius on the person of Jesus Christ or Wesley on sanctification or Augustine on the Trinity or Calvin on the Christian life or Andrew Murray on the priesthood of Christ. Then you will have something to say that’s worth hearing. (HT: Tullian Tchividjian)
(HT: Jimmy Davies)
From Timmy Brister: One of the most encouraging and challenging messages I heard while in Louisville during Together for the Gospel was the 10 minute talk by Ligon Duncan where he answered the question, “If you, an experienced pastor, had 10 minutes to exhort 200 of the next generation of ministers what would you say to them?” His answer was laid out in the following six exhortations: 1. Preach the Word “J.I. Packer says that for those of us who are conservative, evangelical Protestants, when we are faithfully preaching the Word of God, the Word is delivering God’s message through us to His people. It is not that we are delivering the Word of God to His people, it is that His Word is delivering through us His Word to His people.” 2. Love your people “You cannot reform what you do not love . . . your people will receive even your rebuke when they know that you love
(HT: Todd Pruitt)