The PastorŐs Work — 1 Timothy 4:13-16
What is a pastor supposed to do? What is the work of the ministry? What is involved in the work of preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ? Those questions should be of great concern to us all, because, to a greater or lesser degree, they affect us all. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ today is suffering greatly because very few pastors are performing that work which is plainly described in the New Testament as the work of the ministry. Most churches place so many demands on a pastor that he cannot effectively give himself to the work of the ministry, if he does what his congregation expects him to do. The pastor is expected to make regular, daily rounds at the hospital to visit the sick. He is supposed to visit the members of his congregation, especially the elderly, on a regular basis. And he is expected to visit people in the community, trying to persuade them to come to his church. Some churches even expect the pastor to be the custodian of the church property.
If you read the sixth chapter of Acts, you will see that all of these things are works which should be performed by the church deacons. Deacons are men whose work it is to serve GodŐs church by serving their pastor, relieving him of every responsibility and care except the preaching of the gospel of Christ. In reality the New Testament tells us three things that every pastor is supposed to do. He must give himself constantly to these three things.
The pastor must give himself to prayer. In order to minister to the hearts of men, the pastor must prepare his own heart before God. In prayer he makes intercession to God for his congregation and seeks the conversion of sinners. In prayer the pastor seeks a message from God to deliver to the people of God. Prayer is the key which GodŐs servant uses to unlock the treasury chest of Holy Scripture. No man can preach well who does not pray well. The power of the pulpit is prayer.
The pastor must give himself continually to study. He must Ňgive attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.Ó The pastorŐs place is in his study. Every man who is called of God to the work of the gospel ministry will be a diligent and faithful student of Holy Scripture. It is not needful that a pastor be a seminary graduate. But it is absolutely essential that he be a student. It is not possible for a pastor to preach well unless he is a good, diligent student. Every sermon should be fresh, full of instruction for the people of God, and edifying to the souls of men.
Today, as a general rule, sermons are shallow and empty. They are mere repetitions of the same empty words from week to week. The people of God come to the house of God hungry for a word from God; but they go away empty. There is a reason for this: — The pastor does not study. In particular the pastor is to study the Word of God, meditating upon the doctrine revealed in it, so that he can proclaim those old gospel truths in a plain, fresh, and appealing way.
The pastor must be a preacher. First and foremost, the work of the gospel ministry is preaching, preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If a man is called of God to the work of the gospel ministry, he is gifted by God to preach the gospel. Pastoral work is not done in counselling sessions, hospital rooms, and community socials. Pastoral work is done in the closet, in the study, and in the pulpit.
If the pastor spends his week preparing his heart by prayer and preparing his mind by study, when it comes time to preach he will have something to say. He will feed the LordŐs sheep with knowledge and understanding. And those who hear him will profit by what he says.
If you desire to know more about the work of the ministry and how you can best assist GodŐs servant as he ministers to you, read and carefully study the books of 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus. Those three books were written by the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit for the specific purpose of helping GodŐs people to understand the work of the ministry.
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