The Pastor’s Justification (Pastoral Swagger)

“The Pastor’s Justification”. Chapter 3-The Humble Pastor

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to your elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you. (1 Pet.5:5-6)

John Stott writes this about pride and the pastor

Pride is without doubt the chief occupational hazard of the preacher. It has ruined many, and deprived their ministry of power…In some it is blatantly obvious. They are exhibitionists by temperament and use the pulpit as a stage on which they show off…Other preachers are not like Nebuchadnezzars, however, for their pride does not take the form of blatant boastfulness. It is more subtle, more insidious, and even more perverse. For it is possible to adopt an outward demeanor of great meekness, while inside our appetite for applause is insatiable. 

As you can see from the above tweet, I fully recognize what Stott is saying about the more subtle form of pride. It is alive and well in me!

Wilson goes on to write about four ways that pastors can be humbled (willingly or unwillingly)

  1. Humbled in suffering. It is sometimes easy to pick out the pastor who has never gone through any serious affliction. He has a swagger. It is not always the case that the proud pastor has never suffered anything, but we are then left to wonder what his suffering taught him and if he is even a Christian at all.
  2. Humbled in messy ministry. For a pastor to become a man who seeks humility, he will need to stay on the front lines of messy ministry. He will continually seek to get in over his head with people in need. Humility will be hard for the pastor who locks himself away in his office and does not get involved in the daily affairs of his people.
  3. Humbled in prayer. When we cease praying for ourselves, it is because we think we are the captians of our destinies. When we cease praying for our church, it is because we think we can manage it quite well. When we cease praying in our sermon preparation, it is because we think our words are the power of salvation to all who believe.
  4. Humbled in the Word. Do we know the Bible or have we been captured by it? John Piper writes, In essence it happened like this: I was 33 years old. I had two children and a third on the way. As I studied Romans 9 day after day, I began to see God so majestic and so free and so absolutely sovereign that my analysis merged into worship and the Lord said in effect, “I will not simply be analyzed, I will be adored. I will not simply be pondered, I will be proclaimed. My soveriegnty is not simply to be scrutinized, it is to be heralded. It is not the grist for the mill of controversy, it is the gospel for sinners who know that their only hope is the sovereign triumph of God’s grace over their rebellious will.” This is when Bethlehem contacted me near the end of 1979. And I do not hesitate to say that because of Romans 9 I left teaching and became a pastor.

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