Friday, October 7, 2011

The Work of the Pastor by William Still

Several months ago, I purchased The Work of the Pastor by William Still at a pastors conference I attended. As I began reading the book, several of the quotes inspired a few blog post (Feed the Sheep & A Poor Diet of the Word of God & Does Preaching the Bible Work?). I had every intention to finish reading this book back then. But for one reason or another, it was put on the shelf. This is not meant to be an indictment upon the book, but probably more about how many books I am trying to get through. But just a couple weeks ago, I was able to get another pastor friend of mine to read it with me. Today, we are getting together to talk about it, and there are many things for us to talk about.

At the very beginning of the book, Still makes clear his purpose:
"The thesis is that the pastor, being the shepherd of the flock, feeds the flock upon God's Word; the bulk of pastoral work is therefore through the ministry of the Word." (11)
He addresses this issue of feeding the flock over and over again in the book. And he is very quotable. Maybe that is why many of them have found their own blog post over the past several months. I was greatly encouraged that what I am trying to do is what he says I should be doing--preaching and teaching the Bible. He would say there is nothing more important I can do as a pastor than to feed the sheep with the truth of God's Word. After exhausting many pages encouraging pastors to preach the Bible, he gets to this question: "How do you preach and teach the whole Bible?" I really like his answer.
"Once you are convinced your people need - I say need - the whole Word of God, and you get over the shock to your indolent flesh that you are not in the ministry for an easy job, you simply roll up your sleeves, and, having gathered, or being in the process of gathering, the most helpful library of commentaries and reference books you can find, you get down to it: and book by book you give your people a balanced diet of the truth." (61)
This reminded me something that Mark Dever said at The Weekender which I attended a few weeks ago. He said that we make the systematic preaching of God's Word too difficult. He has a plan where he goes back and forth from different genres of Scripture between the Old & New Testaments. It is less about what our people need than what is next. He does that because all of the Scriptures are inspired and profitable and what the people really need is more of the Bible. If your pastor is systematically preaching the Bible, be thankful!

As the pastor feeds the sheep, he is going to need prayer. One thing he mentioned that I always said I wanted to do when I became the primary preacher (and which I have yet to do) is to get people to consistently pray for me. He says,
"We must challenge our people to pray for the ministry, and must see to it that however we meet, and whatever you call it, there is a backing, a support, a powerhouse of prayer behind our ministries." (99)
I appreciated the fact that he says personality is important in the preaching event. I appreciate he calls men to find the balance dead academics and emotionalism. Towards the end of the book, he gives several steps to finding balance in pastoral ministry. First, he says you need to know Christ. Second, make sure of your calling. Third, be willing to wait for His will. Fourth, you have to die to yourself if you are going to preach the Bible. Fifth, you will never be able to do it alone (pg. 116-8). I have always felt called to do something cool in pastoral ministry. He ends with this prayer for pastors:
"Take me, Lord, at whatever cost. Make me a quiet, or roaring flame of fire, as You wish, to burn up the dross of evangelical life in our day, and sear the tails of the demons of ungodliness and filth which are roaming unchecked in society. Then build the church and Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Use me, Lord, use me, for service or sacrifice." (122)
That just could be a dangerous prayer.

Question: If Your Pastor If Faithful To Feed You With The Word Of God, When Was The Last Time You Encouraged Him?

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