T4G C. J. Mahaney: Ordinary Pastors

Here are my notes from the last session of the T4G 2010 conference, a gracious exhortation from C. J. Mahaney to pastors based on 2 Timothy 4:

Some pastors are remarkable gifts to the church, with massive intellects and unusual insights, but most of us are ordinary pastors with ordinary gifts & ordinary areas of spheres and abilities to serve. We’re consistently preaching average sermons Sunday after Sunday, without writing best selling books or having thousands downloading our sermons from around the world or being recognized as we walk down the street. All of us are called and gifted, but not unusually so. But ordinary pastors are predictably tempted to unfavorably compare themselves to these unusual men, and become discouraged. Too often ordinary pastors are discouraged pastors.

To combat this temptation and discouragement, we must turn to a true definition, a true charge, of pastoral ministry. It’s not about gifting or even fruitfulness: all we are called to be is faithful to this charge.

Three Ways a Pastor Can Be Faithful To His Call

One: Be Faithful to the Message 2 Timothy 4:2

Never assume your people have an exhaustive knowledge of the Gospel.

You must resolve to be UNoriginal to remain fixed on the matter of first importance, the Gospel.

The simple Gospel might not look like much, (like one pastor’s first car ( a pink 1957 Ford)), but there is power under the hood. You can say “I can do this! I can preach this Gospel!”

Once Charles Spurgeon’s grandfather remarked, “My grandson may preach the Gospel better than I can, but he cannot preach a better Gospel.”

Faithfulness to the message requires knowing your people, using pastoral wisdom and discernment. That is what Paul means by reprove, rebuke, exhort. You cannot prepare your teaching in isolation from your flock.

Pastoral ministry requires complete patience (verse 2). If we are not patient with our people then we are not being faithful to this charge. Don’t let faith in your people become frustration with your people.

How do you cultivate patience? 1. By marveling at God’s patience with you. 2. By realizing sanctification is a loooong process. 3. By marveling that people who heard you last week actually are coming back to hear you this week. 4. By realizing that many of God’s metaphors are based on agriculture, on timespans of seasons & years. 5. By not assuming you are sufficiently patient.

Two: Be Faithful to your Ministry 2 Timothy 2:5

We are called to relentless faithfulness, today, tomorrow, every day, for all your life.

One of the hardest and most crucial tasks for any ministry is just to keep doing the same things year after year, instead of being distracted by doing “new” or “better” things.

Three: Be Faithful to the Savior 2 Timothy 2:8

Look forward with an eternal perspective to your reward as an ordinary pastor.

On that Day there will be a parade of ordinary pastors, who you have never heard of, who will hear Christ say, “Well done, good & faithful pastor.”

For further reading: Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson by D. A. Carson

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