What should pastors do and what should the church expect, encourage, and allow?
I believe the best way to answer that question is to ask: what are some of the fundamentals that Scripture gives for pastors to practice?
(1) A pastor must consistently practice right speech, right living, and right affections
Paul says in verse 12 of 1 Timothy 4,
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Ti 4:12)
Here Paul calls Timothy to be an example to the believers in his congregation. In order to be an example, he has to consistently practice certain things. Paul tells him first that he has to set an example through:
He can’t just say whatever he wants, however, and whenever he wants to say it. His speech has to always be in line with God’s Word. And it must consist of wise words that serve to build others up. The tongue is powerful, as James makes us aware in chapter 3 of his letter when he says,
“For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” (Jas 3:7–10)
So pastors have to be able to control their tongue, showing others that it’s possible.
Not only should a pastor set an example through right speech, but he should also set an example through:
Paul brings up the ideas of conduct, love, faith, and purity in these verses. What he is telling us is that a pastor has to be someone who conducts himself in line with God’s Word. He must love others, be faithful and trustworthy, and operate with integrity. These must be the characteristics that a pastor possesses so that he can be an example to others.
Along with right speech and right living, a pastor must also set an example through:
He must not only have a love for others, but he must also have a love for God. A love for God that is stronger than the things of this world. You see, we are good at making idols and worshipping those idols to the neglect of God. But that should not be so. God tells us in the 10 commandments that we should have no other gods before Him. In other words, we shouldn’t worship anyone or anything else but God.
The only way that we are going to be able to crush our idols and give God the worship that He commands, is if our love for Him is greater than our love for the things of this world. The way we increase our love for God is by meditating on who He is and what He has done for us. What He has done for us is save us. Wretched, vile, rebellious sinners have been saved by God. He saves by giving up His only Son to die in our place.
Imagine giving up your only son to die in the place of a terrorist, a child molester, a rapist, a murderer, or a serial killer who is sitting on death row. That is unheard of. No one in their right mind would do that, except for God. He has given His only Son so that a vile, wretched, rebellious people may be saved. Meditating on that truth. Realizing who God is and what He has done for us should draw our affections away from the things of the world to God.
A pastor must set an example for his congregation in that his affections must be directed towards God and not the things of this world, which he accomplishes by consistently meditating on the truth of God’s Word, and specifically the gospel message.
So we see that a pastor must be someone who is leading out in right speech, right living, and right affections. The church should not only expect that from their pastor, but they should do all they can to encourage these things.
Next time we will explore a few other things pastors are to do and what the church should expect, encourage, and allow.
Question for Reflection
- If you are a pastor, do you practice these three things?
- If you aren’t a pastor, do you encourage him in these areas?
Post adapted from my sermon How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith?