Posted in: Leadership
Watch Your Life and Doctrine
By Scott Thomas, President of Acts 29
(Adapted from CH Spurgeon’s Lectures to His Students)
A pastor’s life is most effective as a sharpened tool in God’s hand by nurturing the spirit, soul and body and not just organizing information in a logical manner. We are God’s sword in a holy war and are not dependent as much on our talents as we are on our likeness to Jesus. A pastor that is spiritually out of order is a serious disaster to himself and his ministry.
Our first care must be our own soul and we must be regenerated men. This cannot be overlooked. Our faith must be personal and not just professional.
Secondly, a pastor must be vigorous in his personal piety and he must be advanced significantly beyond the typical Christian. His godliness must be vibrant, consistent, firm, faithful and exemplary. A pastor who has sinned grossly should step down until as Spurgeon said, “his repentance is as notorious as his sin.” Preachers must take heed to their holiness because Satan has a special eye on those who proclaim the gospel.
Spurgeon used prayer as a primary gauge for the piety of a person’s heart. A pastor’s prayers publicly and in counseling with others will fluctuate in effectiveness in accordance to that pastor's private prayers. A secondary gauge measuring the devotedness to God is a pastor’s sermonic influence among the hearers. Even clever words and orderly points will fall short if a pastor’s personal holiness is not vigorous. Spurgeon characterized piety as self-discipline, hospitality, sexual purity as well as what Spurgeon timelessly called “ministerialism.” This clergy sin is performing moral activities as duties of the profession and not delights of the heart. This is demonstrated through reading our Bible and praying and being nice to people because that is the job description to which we agreed.
A third area demanding personal monitoring is the consistency of a pastor’s public ministry and private ministry. “True ministers are always ministers,” Spurgeon noted. Dutiful professionalism without Divine passion is abhorrent. The preacher’s masterful word and doctrine cannot earn an exemption of one's inconsistent lifestyle. When we are in the pulpit, our words should compel others to curiously examine what kind of life we live and conversely, our life of good deeds should compel others to desire to hear our words.
Even in the seemingly insignificant issues of holy living a pastor must demonstrate faithfulness, uprightness and consistency. The Word of God must continually sterilize our scalpel or we will be in danger of infecting the body in our attempt to do good. Our lives should be consistently found above reproach. We should encourage and provide a means for the thorough examination of our life and character by others, including our web browser history, our bank accounts, our credit reports, our driving records, our private messages and our relationships. Spurgeon said we are not prisoners of the whims of every opinionated Christian who expects acculturated gentility rather than godly piety. But we must pass up sin’s allurement as we would a poisonous snake within striking range.
We nurture our spirit, soul and bodies by imitating the life of Jesus and leaning into the cross when we sin. Our preaching should profoundly demonstrate this.