One of the things I've experienced over the past month is the profound weight and responsibility of pastoral ministry. As I've stepped into the roll of Interim Senior Pastor at my church, God has graciously made me aware of the amazing burden of caring for God's people. A Pastor is first and foremost a shepherd, who has been stewarded to precious flock of Jesus Christ. I know that as a pastor I stand as one who will give account for the sheep in my fold. Every church member I am given the task to shepherd their soul. I am called to lead them with the rod of the scriptures. I am called to protect them from wolves and even from themselves. I'm called to lead them through the war zone of culture helping them to persevere to the end and not fall captive to the empty philosophy of the world. That's why I love that picture above of a man shepherding his sheep in a tank grave yard. That is the job of a pastor.
I felt this responsibility most clearly as I stood up to preach this past week from 2 Timothy 4. Paul gives the powerful charge to Timothy to "preach the word". Paul's last cry to Timothy was to shepherd the church with the scriptures. The task of preaching we see in this passage is for the building up of the church so that they may be "competent, equipped for every good work". However, the task of a pastor through his preaching ministry is also to protect the people from their itching ears.
Everyone, including myself, is tempted to scratch their itching ears by finding teachers, books, and resources that suit our own passions. Our sinful nature makes us truth repellers not truth seekers. Sheep wander off into danger, and it is the job of the shepherd to rescue them through the preached word of God.
The Pastor is a man who will be held accountable before Christ to faithfully preach the word, in season and out of season. When it is popular for him to do so, and also when it means preaching truth causes him to lose his job or lose his life.
The weight of this responsibility was so heavy on my heart this past Sunday. The few minutes before I went up to preach this text to my church, I quoted this passage in my mind and by God's spirit he reminded me of the responsibility but also the glory of this task.
As the great 20th century preacher, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said in his great work, Preaching and Preachers:
the work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called. If you want something in addition to that I would say without any hesitation that the most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching; and as it is the greatest and the most urgent need in the Church, it is obviously the greatest need of the world also.
What the church and the world needs now more than ever are men who feel the weight and the glory of their task of shepherding their people through the preached word of God. May pastors rise to this most glorious challenge!
If you would like to listen to my sermon from 2 Timothy 3-4 you can click here.