Marks of A Good Pastor (Part 3: An Approved Worker)
Why should your pastor want to walk into his small, jam-packed office this morning? What should he be about while his burning the the candle? Your pastor should jump out of bed tomorrow morning because he desires to be approved by God. The apostle Paul writes to his beloved son in the faith in 2 Timothy 2:15:
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Why should Timothy, Paul’s mentee in the faith, want to be a pastor? Why should your pastor desire to step into the pulpit this Sunday?
Paul tells us that our pastor should be driven by a desire to present himself to God. He should wake up each morning eager to stand at attention in God’s army, declaring that he is with God and ready to be used by God. He should seek to present himself to God as one who is approved and as one who is ready for service.
And what service should your pastor be about? Paul tells us. He says that the pastor is a worker, someone who labors faithfully and who has no need to be ashamed of his efforts.
And what does the pastor work at? What should he be laboring hard at? What should drive him to awake in the morning? The Truth.
The faithful pastor is marked by a burning and incessant desire to study the Word of God. He labors day-in and day-out to cut a path through the dense forest of biblical thought so that he can declare the truths of Scriptures to others. He labors in his study so that his congregation can understand and obey the Word of God on Sunday. This is the work of the pastor and elder. God has blessed the church with deacons to help with the administration and the daily physical tasks associated with ministry (Acts 6:1-7).
Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. – Acts 6:3-4.
The pastor or elder should be motivated by a desire to please God through the faithful study and teaching of the Word. The pastor is primarily a man who studies and prays.
The pastor can and should visit. He can and should be involved in some of the church’s administrative decisions. He can and should be able to move chairs and able to change a diaper. The man who is too lofty to serve his congregation is too immature to pastor his congregation. Yes, the pastor must do other tasks. But his main task and function is to be the correct handling the Word of truth. All of the pastors and elders other gifts and ministries and the very health of the church depends upon the pastor’s ability to understand and declare truth. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,
Visiting, or any other activity, can never compensate for a lack of preaching. Indeed I suggest that visiting will not have much meaning unless the preaching has been what it should be, and has prepared the way…Preaching prepares the way for all other activities of a minister.
If we want our church to thrive, we must encourage our pastor to faithfully and regularly study the Word of Truth. If our pastor becomes focused on facilities, visitation, counseling, or anything other than the Gospel, he will do harm to his church.
I heard a pastor once brag about neglecting his studies so that he could counsel more. He began to recycle sermon series and boasted about his changed focus. Before the next twelves months passed, his church was rocked by two different scandals.
Paul affirms the opposite. He says the faithful pastor works hard to understand, declare, and apply the Scriptures. The faithful pastor makes the study of the word his main focus. The pastor who cannot preach the whole Bible should not pastor.
Moreover if you desire to go into the ministry and if you believe God is calling you to pastor his church, you must be a student of the Word. You do not have to go to college or seminary to be a faithful preacher. Spurgeon had only the equivalent of a high school degree. But he was an avid learner, reading at least six substantive books each week. If you do not like to read, write, and study, please stay away from the pulpit and from pastoral ministry. The ministry is for those who desire to diligently study the Word of Truth.
As we have seen in past blogs, the faithful pastor is the one who reminds his congregation of the gospel, who encourages his congregation to avoid ruinous words, and who faithfully handles the Truth as an approved worker. Is this your pastor? Are your praying for your pastor to be such a man? What marks characterize your pastor the man stepping into your pulpit?