Take heed to yourselves, because the tempter will more ply you with his temptations than other men. If you will be the leaders against the prince of darkness, he will spare you no further than God restraints him. He bears the greatest malice to those that are engaged to do him the greatest mischief. As he hates Christ more than any of us, because He is the General of the field, the Captain of our salvation, and does more than all the world besides against his kingdom; so does he hate the leaders under Him, more than the common soldiers: he knows what a rout he may make among them, if the leaders fall before their eyes.
And now, brethren, what have we to do for the time to come, but to deny our lazy flesh, and rouse up ourselves to the work before us. The harvest is great, the laborers are few; the loiterers and hinderers are many, the souls of men are precious, the misery of sinners is great, and the everlasting misery to which they are near is greater, the joys of heaven are inconceivable, the comfort of a faithful minister is not small, the joy of extensive success will be a full reward. To be fellow-workers with God and his Spirit is no little honor; to subserve the blood-shedding of Christ for men’s salvation is not a light thing. To lead on the armies of Christ through the thickest of the enemy; to guide them safely through a dangerous wilderness; to steer the vessels through such storms and rocks and sands and shelves, and bring it safe to the harbor of rest, requires no small skill and diligence.
Burned and wasted we must be; and is it not fitter it should be in lighting men to heaven, and in working for God, than in living to the flesh? How little difference is there between the pleasure of a long and of a short life, when they are both at an end! What comfort will it be to you at death, that you lengthened your life by shortening your work? He that worketh much, liveth much. Our life is to be esteemed according to the ends and works of it, and not according to the mere duration… Will it not comfort us more at death, to review a short time faithfully spent, than a long life spent unfaithfully?
The word work forbids loitering and the word ministry lording.
Courage…is the indispensable requisite of any true ministry… Courage is good everywhere, but it is necessary here. If you are afraid of men and a slave to their opinion, go and do something else. Go and make shoes to fit them… But do not keep on all your life preaching sermons which shall say not what God sent you to declare, but what they hire you to say.
Spiritual authority depends more on care given than on power wielded.
More especially is the uniting of a faithful minister with a particular Christian people, as their pastor, when done in a due manner, like a young man marrying a virgin… It is so with respect to mutual regard and affection. A faithful minister, that is in a Christian manner united to a Christian people as their pastor, has his heart united to them in the most ardent and tender affection. And they, on the other hand, have their hearts united to him, esteeming him very highly in love for his work’s sake, and receiving him with honor and reverence, and willingly subjecting themselves to him, and committing themselves to his care, as being, under Christ, their head and guide…. When such a minister and such a people are thus united, it is attended with great joy. The minister joyfully devoting himself to the service of his Lord in the work of the ministry, as a work that he delights in; and also joyfully uniting himself to the society of the saints that he is set over, as having complacence in them, for his dear Lord’s sake, whose people they are; and willingly and joyfully, on Christ’s call, undertaking the labors and difficulties of the service of their souls. And they, on the other hand; joyfully receiving him as a precious gift of their ascended Redeemer.
Sadly, some pastors leave because of a hireling mentality. They leave their churches precisely because there are problems. When the wolf comes and tears into the sheep, they find it uncomfortable to be there and they move on. I don’t say this is always the case, but it may be true more often than we like to think. It appears that they wish to turn the church over to the wolves who are at first only nipping at them. They run because they are hirelings who do not love the sheep.
Jonathan Edwards was a zealous pastor who never forgot for a moment that his own family was a part of that flock, and that he had been appointed to be a shepherd to these sheep also, those within his own fold. He was ever concerned for the salvation of the souls of men, all men, not overlooking those closest to him. He never for one moment assumed that his own children were of the elect. George Perry Norris describes him as a “tender brooding parent.”
When all were in their places Father said grace and, excusing himself, left the family to retire to his study. He frequently spent thirteen hours a day studying. He managed this amazing amount of time by husbanding every hour of the day. He usually arose at four in the morning, indulging himself in the later rising time of five in the winter. In this way he was far along in his studies while the household slept. He preferred to eat alone, usually certain foods which he had by experimentation discovered kept his mind and body most sprightly. This morning he did not eat the rich menu which Venus set before the rest of the household, the home-cured bacon and the delicious hot breads. But at the end of the meal, he rejoined his family for morning devotions.
Ministers are herein to imitate God, and, to their best endeavour, to instruct people in the mysteries of godliness, and to teach them what to believe and practice, and then to stir them up in act and deed, to do what they are instructed to do. Their labor otherwise is likely to be in vain. Neglect of this course is a main cause that men fall into as many errors as they do in these days
Ministry, you see, is a great place for guys with the idol of success to hide, because we can mask our selfish ambition in the cloak of doing great things for God.
Ordained ministry is a serious and strenuous calling that requires form a man a radical refusal to set any limits on what God may demand of him.
Not a few preachers’ kids have been catapulted into rebellion because their fathers squeezed their lives to fit their parishioners’ expectations. What a massive sin against one’s children!
John Broadus (one of the founders of the Southern Baptist Seminary and the author of the most influential book on preaching ever written in America) was lecturing his class just nine days before he died when he paused and said: “Gentlemen, if this were the last time I should ever be permitted to address you, I would feel amply repaid for consuming the whole hour endeavoring to impress upon you these two things: true piety, and, like Apollos, to be men ‘mighty in the Scriptures.’” Broadus then paused and stood for a moment with his piercing eyes fixed upon the class. Over and over he repeated in that slow but wonderfully impressive style that was distinctively his, “Mighty in the Scriptures, mighty in the Scriptures.”
“Flock” brings to mind all the shepherd imagery found in the Scriptures: the sheep gentle, defenseless, liable to stray, needing a shepherd, happy, peaceful under his care, pitiful when lost, scattered, etc. This is “God’s flock” that was bought with a great price (Ac 20:28), that is exceedingly precious in His sight, a great trust placed into the hands of human shepherds who are to pattern after Yahweh, the Shepherd (Psm. 23), and Christ, the Archshepherd (1 Pet. 5:4). What shepherd could have the care of any part of God’s flock and treat it carelessly!
Our enemy knows that when he strikes the shepherd, the sheep will scatter (Matt. 26:31), and church leaders – even as the Lord Himself – are Satan’s special targets. The more faithful and fruitful a pastor is, the more his people need to pray for his strength and protection. He is more subject to the devil’s schemes to make him discouraged or self-satisfied, hopeless or superficially optimistic, cowardly or overconfident. Satan uses every situation – favorable or unfavorable, successful or unsuccessful – to try to weaken, distract, and discredit God’s gifted men in their work of “equipping of the saints for the work of service” (Eph. 4:12).
A pastor’s books are as essential as the furniture of his home (Derek Prime and Alistair Begg).
People’s lives are beaten down enough. They don’t need more of it from the pulpit (Richard Ganz).
I know of nothing which I would choose to have as the subject of my ambition for life than to be kept faithful to my God till death, still to be a soul winner, still to be a true herald of the cross, and testify the name of Jesus to the last hour. It is only such who in the ministry shall be saved.
Some are childishly anxious to know their friend’s opinion of them, and if it contain the smallest element of dissent or censure, they regard him as an enemy forthwith. Surely we are not popes, and do not wish our hearers to regard us as infallible! We have known men become quite enraged at a perfectly fair and reasonable remark, and regard an honest friend as an opponent who delighted to find fault; this misrepresentation on the one side has soon produced heat on the other, and strife ensued. How much better is gentle forbearance! You must be able to bear criticism, or you are not fit to be at the head of a congregation; and you must let the critic go without reckoning him among your deadly foes, or you will prove yourself a mere weakling.
Public men must expect public criticism, and as the public cannot be regarded as infallible, public men may expect to be criticized in a way which is neither fair nor pleasant. To all honest and just remarks we are bound to give due measure of heed, but to the bitter verdict of prejudice, the frivolous faultfinding of men of fashion, the stupid utterances of the ignorant, and the fierce denunciations of opponents, we may very safely turn a deaf ear.
As Christian leaders we will be required to admonish and rebuke. In fact, a good deal of time may be spent doing this work. It is an important aspect of ministry not to be neglected because it is used by God to rescue people from sin and deception. You will never know until heaven the full extent of good you have done for others by rebuking them about sin or warning them about false doctrine.
We cannot sit back and wait for the sheep to lead. A few will, but by and large they are looking to us for direction, feeding, and leadership by our stepping out courageously in faith.
You are most loving patient, kind and gracious when you are aware that there is no truth that you could give to another that you don’t desperately need yourself. You are most humble and gentle when you think that the person you are ministering to is more like you than unlike you. When you have inserted yourself into another category that tends to make you think you have arrived, it is very easy to be judgmental and impatient.
Pastoral ministry is always shaped, formed, directed, and driven by worship. Your ministry will be shaped by worship of God or worship of you or, for most of us, a troubling mix of both. Perhaps there is no more powerful, seductive, and deceitful temptation in ministry than self-glory. Perhaps in ministry there is no more potent intoxicant than the praise of men, and there is no more dangerous form of drunkenness than to be drunk with your own glory. It has the power to reduce you to shocking self-righteousness and inapproachability.
Self-Glory by Paul David Tripp taken from Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp, copyright 2012, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, p. 167.
There is never a moment in ministry when you aren’t being ministered to. The Savior is not just working through you in the lives of others, but He is also working in you as He works through you. He is not just calling you to be an agent of His transforming grace; He is transforming you by the same grace. He is not just committed to the success of your ministry but also to the triumph of His grace in your own heart and life… You are never just a vehicle of His amazing grace. No, you are always also a recipient of that grace.
[Pastors] develop habits that are spiritually dangerous. They are content with a devotional life that either doesn’t exist or is constantly kidnapped by preparation. They are comfortable with living outside of or above the body of Christ. They are quick to minister but not very open to being ministered to. They have long since quit seeing themselves with accuracy and so tend not to receive well the loving confrontation of others. And they tend to carry this unique-category home with them and are less than humble and patient with their families.
If Christ is the head of His body – and He is – then everything else is just body. The most influential pastor or ministry leader is a member of the body of Christ and therefore needs what the other members of the body need. There is no indication in the New Testament that the pastor is the exception to the rule.
You must think of yourself not only as an instrument of the work but also as a recipient. Your work as an instrument does not cancel out your identity as a recipient, and your identity as a recipient doesn’t weaken your work as an instrument. You and I must never approach grace only as instruments of that grace in the lives of others; we must also remember that there is no grace that we offer to others that we don’t at once need ourselves.