Any pastor knows that the work of the ministry is multi-faceted with several differing needs arising over the course of any week. Just as soon as the call to visit a couple who had their first baby comes, another comes in that an elderly saint has just been called home to their reward. Marriages occur in the life of the church, as does marital counseling because one is in the middle of strife. New Christians need discipleship and mature saints need direction in how to serve. With all of the unique situations that arise, we often see areas in the church and in people that need growth. Sometimes a person needs to grow in their patience as evidenced by their testiness when someone visits with them. The congregation as a whole may need to advance perhaps in some spiritual way, with financial management, or perhaps in evangelizing the community. Paul’s charge to Titus to “put what remained in order” certainly means that pastors are called to shepherd the flock into increasing conformity to the Word of God by combatting both false doctrine and practices while pursuing that which Christ has commanded (Titus 1:5).
While all of this is true and good as defined by Scripture, brethren we must never forget to pursue transformation in our own hearts as well. It is ever so easy to come to the Scripture seeing it exclusively as a manual for how we should try to impact the church, other pastors, or the lost world. Indeed, we should study to be guided by the sufficient Word in all these realms, but we must not do that exclusively. Our first endeavor is to study the Word of God so that we might know God being transformed by Christ to be more like Him and live for His glory. Romans 8:29 says:
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” -Romans 8:29
If God’s goal for His people is to conform them to His dear Son, then that is His goal for our souls as pastors as well. We must not only see how the church or everyone outside of ourselves needs to be changed by the power of God’s Word, but we must also be convicted by the text to understand how we need God’s grace to transform our lives.
Brothers, the truth is that not only do those we serve need growth, but we ourselves also need to mature in Christ. I am not saying that you as a pastor are immature in the Lord, rather I am saying that none of us have made it to glory yet therefore we are all still in an ongoing growth process. Every single Christian, pastor and non-pastor alike, needs to behold the face of Christ and be continually changed by His grace. This is what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:18:
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” -2 Corinthians 3:18
Notice how the Apostle Paul includes himself in this statement as beholding Christ’s glory and being transformed by Him. If he understood the importance of this fact, then we must as well. As pastors, we need the Word to work in our own souls pointing us to the path of faithfulness. It is vital that we be reminded of the glory of Christ in the Gospel. The fact that our sins have been forgiven by the atoning work of our Lord must always be set before our minds. We need God to act by His Spirit to convict us of our sins, rebuke us for our shortcomings, and remind us to pursue Him with joy in everything. Our soul’s passion must be to bring Him glory and our desire to grow in the Lord must not grow cold. Even in our ministries, we need biblical truth set before us so that we can remember to serve and labor for Christ’s sake with hearts of love devoted to His Gospel. We must be humbled by the Word of God as we deepen our knowledge of the perfect God from whom all blessings flow!
Ministering from such a heart as this one will dramatically change the pastor’s work. Instead of believing he is the “perfect one” in the church, the pastor will understand he is in need of grace just as the rest of the congregation. Transformed to humility as opposed to pride he will understand that he needs the fellowship of the local church as much as any other believer. Understanding his need for growth, he will pursue Christ not merely to teach Him to others, but to learn more of the Glorious Redeemer. Indeed, the pastor will “put what remained into order” with a more biblical attitude than if he loses focus on pursuing the Lord in his own life and soul.
My prayer is that all of us as pastors are driven first and foremost to know and glorify God. I hope that we serve in our stations courageously, lovingly, joyfully, and unwaveringly for our Savior is worth giving our all for His glory. Let us labor for transformation even as we are increasingly transformed by the power of the glory of Christ. May we delight in our Savior even as we delight in His calling upon us to preach His Word. I pray, dear brother, that we shall have the great privilege of being tools used in the hands of our God. Let us never forget the grace we have been shown, the change Christ has brought in us, and may we always remember to pursue Him each day growing in the Lord!