The Need for My Pastoral Best

Apparently I need to do better at ducking snowballs. We woke up to the white stuff this morning. Before Bible study we slipped outside for some fun and frolic. One of the sheep got a little frisky and pelted me in the noggin. Good thing I had my hat on.

But I’m not referring to my need to move with greater quickness in this post. Rather I have a far more serious matter of required excellence in mind as it pertains to the role of the pastor of a local church. Paul speaks to it 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.

The Lord brought this verse to mind this morning as I heard yet another teacher here at Urbana handle the Scriptures in a less-than-tidy manner. Frankly, it has alarmed me how loose so many have been in their handling of their presenting duties. We have heard good things (this morning’s presentation of the gospel hit a doctrinally sound home run), but some of the ways the text has been manipulated at times to serve a foisted agenda in this conference has left me shivering in my already cold boots.

At that moment this morning I quietly heard the Lord say, not audibly, but intuitively, Curt, do your best as a teacher. Work hard in the study. When you stand in the pulpit for Me, do so prepared to drive a straight furrow through the field of any given text that I might may be glorified and each listener may have joy.

Lord, you make me want to be a better pastor.

Take Care Then How You Hear

The Bible has a lot to say about how preachers are to preach (2 Tim. 3:16-4:4). It also has some things to say to those who listen. In Luke 18:8 Jesus bids His hearers to take care then how you hear.

Tim Challies has grappled with how to take care in listening to preaching in a blog post entitled Being a Diligent Listener. He writes:

We set high expectations for our pastors, and rightly so, I think. Ministers of the Word have a high calling before God to be his mouthpiece, to bring his Word to his people. We expect that every Sunday we will sit under the pastor’s teaching and learn sacred truths from his mouth. We expect that he will spend his week studying Scripture and digging deeply into God’s Word so that he can teach us something on Sunday that will change our lives. We expect him to be true to Scripture, to make a good presentation of it and to keep us engaged all the while. It is a difficult and often thankless task.

What we consider less often, I think, is that while a pastor bears great responsibility in preparing for and delivering the Word of God each Sunday, the listener shares in the responsibility. The church has no place for an audience. We are all to be involved in the preaching, even as listeners. We may drive home on Sunday muttering about the pastor’s lack of preparation after a less-than-engaging sermon, but how often do we drive away reflecting on our own lack of preparation? How often should we trace our lack of learning or our lack of engagement right back to our own lack of preparation?

You can read the rest of the post here.

As I give myself to preparation for tomorrow’s message in John 7:37-52, may you as well give yourself to the kind of preparation Challies commends. I will meet you somewhere in the middle tomorrow morning, Lord willing.