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Equipping Pastors: Your Impatience Will Kill You and Your People

Returning from speaking at the Exposing God conference, pastor Thabiti Anyabwile wrote on his blog what he learned from fellow-speaker CJ Mahaney's teaching. Here is an excerpt of this thoughts.

[CJ Mahaney preaches on 1 Tim: 4-15: "preach the word in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching."]

One thing I've continued to roll over in my head is C.J.'s wise exhortation to be patient with our people's growth in knowledge and sanctification...


What happens when our applications and instamatic sermons don't produce what we want to see overnight? (and they won't) If it's really impatience at work, we'll begin to despair of seeing growth and change. If it's a certain lack of grace in our outlook, we'll miss the gracious hand of God already at work in His people by His word independent of us ... If it's self-righteousness, we'll love our people less as we grow intolerant of weakness. And we'll likely mistake weakness for wickedness. All because what took us months and years to arrive at, we want to see in our people yesterday. … We'll tend to beat the sheep rather than feed the sheep. We'll drive the sheep rather than encourage them…


Thus the pastor finds himself in a downward spiral. Once we're dispirited, there are two basic options left to us. The really disciplined and stony-faced heaps up another round of overly prescriptive and moralistic applications, divorced from gospel indicatives. Meanwhile, the less self-willed fall deeper into despair and maybe leave the ministry discouraged and distressed.


How do we climb out of this pit? ...We come to the gospel afresh. For that grace of God that patiently conforms the pastor to the likeness of Christ, is the same grace that's at work conforming the people to Christ as they hope for His coming (Titus 2:11-13). We remember that Christ is their wisdom from God... righteousness, holiness and redemption. So, our boast needs to be in the Lord, not our progress (1 Cor. 1:30-31). And we renew our trust in God's word to build God's people and kingdom--while we sleep and to inevitably glorious fullness (Mark 4:26-34).


We must depend upon God's grace and God's word, or we'll ruin ourselves and our people.




Thabiti Anyabwile is the pastor of First Baptist Church of the Grand Cayman Islands, and author of The Decline of African American Theology amongst other books.

You can hear more of the God Exposed teaching sessions with Thabiti, Mark Dever, Danny Akin and others here.