We must feel toward our people as a father toward his children; yea, the most tender love of a mother must not surpass ours. We must even travail in birth, till Christ be formed in them. They should see that we care for no outward thing, neither liberty, nor honor, nor life, in comparison to their salvation… When the people see that you truly love them, they will hear anything from you… Oh therefore, see that you feel a tender love for your people in your hearts, and let them perceive it in your speech and conduct. Let them see that you spend and are spent for their sakes.
The object of the Christian ministry is to convert sinners and to edify the body of Christ. No faithful minister can possibly rest short of this. Applause, fame, popularity, honor, wealth – all these are vain. If souls are not won, if saints are not matured, our ministry itself is vain. The question, therefore, which each of us has to answer to his own conscience is, “Has it been the end of my ministry, has it been the desire of my heart to save the lost and guide the saved? Is this my aim in every sermon I preach, in every visit I pay?”
The pastor ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep; and another, for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves.
Our Good Shepherd has become the model for under-shepherds. His great concern is the good of the sheep. A good shepherd gives himself to the sheep. A thief comes to get something form the flock – wool or mutton. Jesus our Lord made every personal claim subservient to the blessing of his flock; even to giving His life that they might live.
Pastor…your toil and labor cannot root in your love for them or their love for you. It must root in your love for Christ, His love for you, and His love for them. He has purchased them with His blood. And you mean to present them to Him. It is for Him that you do it all.
So many times I’ve seen men, particularly younger guys, act as if real leadership is shown in correcting others. That’s why young men’s sermons often scold. What they haven’t figured out is that you can often accomplish more by encouragement. There are times to scold. But 80 to 90 percent of what you hope to correct can be accomplished through encouragement. If you look back at your life and consider who influenced you the most, you will probably find that it’s the people who believed in you.
When [the pastor] loses his sense of servanthood, at that same time he loses his spiritual power and usefulness. When he exalts himself and begins to work in his own human power and according to his own plans, he competes with God and forfeits his spiritual power. To lose dependence is to lose everything, because everything that is of any value in our lives, including power for effective service, comes only from the Lord. Among the greatest dangers to the ministry, and to all faithful Christian living, are things that in the world’s eyes are of supreme value – personal ambition, prestige, recognition, honor, reputation, and success.
A Good Shepherd is not known by how gently he pets the sheep. A Good Shepherd is known by how well he protects them and feeds them.
God’s people need to be fed out of the overflow of the pastor’s deep study of Scripture – not some scraps he was able to pull together at the last minute. Such weakness in the pulpit leads to weakness throughout the church. Good communication skills may entertain, but they are useless if the pastor is not unleashing God’s Word.
The shepherd’s ability to faithfully feed his flock depends on how well he’s feeding himself.
When [pastors] measure whether or not (they) are successful, it must be by this criterion, namely, are we seeing the saints growing to completeness in Jesus Christ?
You know the common expression, “A jack of all trades.” I am sure a minister had need be such a one: a brave soldier, an alert watchman, a caring shepherd, a hardworking farmer, a skillful builder, a wise counselor, a competent physician and a loving nurse.
A man may have a charismatic personality; he may be a gifted administrator and a silken orator; he may be armed with an impressive program; he may even have the people skills of a politician and the empathic listening skills of a counselor; but he will starve the sheep if he cannot feed the people of God on the Word of God. Programs and personalities are dispensable. But without food, sheep die. Feeding the flock is therefore the pastor’s first priority. “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15, ESV) (Mark Dever and Paul Alexander).
The church needs elders who “live in the Word,” not merely “study the Bible.” Our best passions can be stirred by a shepherd who lives under the Cross with blood in his tracks and a Bible in his hands (Lynn Anderson).
You cannot lead people where you have never been. You cannot impart what you do not possess. You cannot preach with power what you are not practicing with integrity.
Make him a minister of the Word! Fling him into his office, tear the office sign from the door and nail on the sign: Study. Take him off the mailing list, lock him up with his books and his typewriter and his Bible. Slam him down on his knees before texts, broken hearts, the flippant lives of a superficial flock, and the Holy God. Force him to be the one man in our surfeited communities who knows about God. Throw him into the ring to box with God until he learns how short his arms are. Let him come out only when he is bruised and beaten into being a blessing. Set a time clock on him that will imprison him with thought and writing about God for 40 hours a week. Shut his garrulous mouth forever spouting "remarks" and stop his tongue always tripping lightly over everything nonessential. Require him to have something to say before he dare break silence. Bend his knees in the lonesome valley, fire him from the PTA and cancel his country club membership; burn his eyes with weary study, wreck his emotional poise with worry for God, and make him exchange his pious stance for a humble walk before God and man. Make him spend and be spent for the glory of God. Rip out his telephone, burn up his ecclesiastical success sheets, refuse his glad hand, and put water in the gas tank of his community buggy. Give him a Bible and tie him in his pulpit and make him preach the Word of the living God. Test him, quiz him and examine him; humiliate him for his ignorance of things divine, and shame him for his glib comprehension of finances, batting averages, and political in-fighting. Laugh at his frustrated effort to play psychiatrist, scorn his insipid morality, refuse his supine intelligence, and compel him to be a minister of the Word. If he dotes on being pleasing, demand that he please God and not man. Form a choir and raise a chant and haunt him with it night and day: "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." When at long last, he dares assay the pulpit, ask him if he has a Word from God; if he does not, then dismiss him and tell him you can read the morning paper, digest the television commentaries, think through the day’s superficial problems, manage the community’s myriad drives, and bless assorted baked potatoes and green beans ad infinitum better than he can. Command him not to come back until he has read and re-read, written and re-written, until he can stand up, worn and forlorn, and say, "Thus saith the Lord." And when he is burned out by the flaming Word that coursed through him, when he is consumed at last by the fiery Grace blazing through him, and when he who was privileged to translate the truth of God to man is finally translated from earth to heaven, then bear him away gently, blow a muted trumpet and lay him down softly, place a two-edged sword on his coffin and raise a tune triumphant, for he was a brave soldier of the Word and e’er he died he had become a spokesman for his God.
Sheep are defenseless, liable to stray, pitiful when lost, scattered, stubborn and unintelligent. Clearly, they are desperate for a shepherd. They are dependent on someone to feed protect and lead them to safe green pastures. In the Bible the church leader is called a pastor, a shepherd. The transfer is applicable. It is His charge to “shepherd the flock of God among you (1 Peter 5:2). That means he must feed them on the nutrients of God’s Word, protect them from false teachers (spiritual wolves), warn them about potential dangers, lead them to the fields of holiness and grace and correct them when they stray. Ultimately, Jesus Christ does this through them.
May I beg you carefully to judge every preacher, not by his gifts, not by his elocutionary powers, not by his status in society, not by the respectability of his congregation, not by the prettiness of his church, but by this – does he preach the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation? If he does, your sitting under his ministry may prove to you the means of begetting faith in you. But if he does not, you cannot expect God’s blessing.
It is a very solemn delusion when ministers think they are prospering, and yet do not hear of conversions.
What a colossal failure it is for church shepherds to do everything but feed God’s flock. The Bible is the believer’s food. Continual nourishment through the milk and meat of God’s Word is what they need for protection and growth. Loving leaders and teachers will labor diligently to meet that need.
You see, the standards you set for yourself and your ministry are directly related to your view of God. If you are feeding your soul everyday on the grace and glory of God, if you are in worshipful awe of His wisdom and power, if you are spiritually stunned by His faithfulness and love, and if you are daily motivated by His presence and promises, then you want to do everything you can to capture and display that glory to the people God has placed in your care. It is your job as a pastor to pass this glory down to another generation, and it is impossible for you to do that if you are not being awestricken by God’s glory yourself.
Think about the insanity of…ministry idolatry. The people in your congregation did not become active participants in your ministry so that collectively they could make you feel better about yourself and more secure with your ministry gifts. God didn’t call you to your particular ministry position so that you could finally cobble together an identity that you could live with. The leadership of the church didn’t call you to be their pastor because they knew that you needed a forum where you could find meaning and purpose. The troubled people in your congregation did not come with their troubles so that you could feel needed, essential, and appreciated. The people who faithfully give don’t give so you can build a successful ministry and bask in the security of your accomplishments. So you will never find in your ministry the rest of heart that every human being seeks. And when you look there, it only ends in anxiety, frustration, hurt, disappointment, anger, and bitterness and may ultimately lead you to question the goodness of God… The only defense against this the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is only when we are living out of the life that grace alone is able to give that we quit seeking life elsewhere. It is only when we are embracing the rest of the forgiveness of grace that we can look at ourselves honestly and grieve without wallowing in debilitating guilt and shame.
The pastor must be enthralled by, in awe of – can I say it: in love with – his Redeemer so that everything he thinks, desires, chooses, decides, says, and does is propelled by love for Christ and the security of rest in the love of Christ. He must be regularly exposed, humbled, assured, and given rest by the grace of his Redeemer. His heart needs to be tenderized day after day by his communion with Christ so that he becomes a tender, loving, patient, forgiving, encouraging, and giving servant leader. His meditation on Christ – His presence, His promises, and His provisions – must not be overwhelmed by his meditation on how to make his ministry work.
More than Knowledge and Skill 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. 63.
Pastor, there is no congregation you need to preach to more than yourself.
Pastor, you will never be that perfect portrait; the only one who achieved that perfection was Christ. No, rather than being a perfect portrait that assures people that the gospel is true, you and I are called to be windows through which people look and see the glory of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. It is our weakness that demonstrates both the essentiality and power of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The best pastor is always the one who is willing to sit under his own teaching.
Stick with your work. Do not flinch because the lion roars; do not stop to stone the devil’s dogs; do not fool away your time chasing the devil’s rabbits. Do your work. Let liars lie, let sectarians quarrel, let critics malign, let enemies accuse, let the devil do his worst; but see to it nothing hinders you from fulfilling with joy the work God has given you. He has not commanded you to be admired or esteemed. He has never bidden you defend your character. He has not set you at work to contradict falsehood (about yourself) which Satan’s or God’s servants may start to peddle, or to track down every rumor that threatens your reputation. If you do these things, you will do nothing else; you will be at work for yourself and not for the Lord. Keep at your work. Let your aim be as steady as a star. You may be assaulted, wronged, insulted, slandered, wounded and rejected, misunderstood, or assigned impure motives; you may be abused by foes, forsaken by friends, and despised and rejected of men. But see to it with steadfast determination, with unfaltering zeal, that you pursue the great purpose of your life and object of your being until at last you can say, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.”
What has exceedingly hurt you in time past, nay, and I fear, to this day, is lack of reading. I scarce ever knew a preacher who read so little. And perhaps, by neglecting it, you have lost the taste for it. Hence your talent in preaching does not increase. It is just the same as it was seven years ago. It is lively, but not deep; there is little variety; there is no compass of thought. Reading only can supply this, with meditation and daily prayer. You wrong yourself greatly by omitting this. You can never be a deep preacher without it, any more than a thorough Christian. Oh begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercise. You may acquire the taste which you have not; what is tedious at first will afterward be pleasant. Whether you like it or not, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way; else you will be a trifler all your days, and a pretty, superficial preacher. Do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer. Take up your cross and be a Christian altogether. Then will all the children of God rejoice (not grieve) over you, and in particular yours.
The trustworthy leader, then will serve God best by feeding others with God’s food, reproving them with God’s Word, tending them with God’s heart, and disciplining them with God’s grace.
The shepherd is called a watchman for good reason! He can never neglect the safety of his flock, nor be indifferent or reckless concerning their constant need for food and shelter. If he becomes timid and self-preserving, he will run at the first sign of trouble and the sheep are doomed. If he miscalculates the seriousness of his duties and becomes careless or casual, the flock will not be spared.