From the Foreward to the Conclusion, The Pastor’s Justification had me crying out “Yes, that’s me!” Dr. Mike Ayers describes his sentiment in the Foreward, “…Somewhere along the way, ministry for me became about proving to myself and to the world what a great leader and leader I was.” Jared Wilson does an excellent job examining Biblical truth from 1 Peter 5:1-11 and other passages over two parts: The Pastor’s Heart and The Pastor’s Glory.
Part 1: The Pastor’s Heart deals with what it means to be free, holy, humble, confident, watchful, and justified as a pastor. Part2: The Pastor’s Glory explains how the pastor relates to the Bible, God’s grace, his faith, the King, and His glory. Wilson deals with the very practical obstacles (money, power, people, purpose, etc) that sideline and deflate a pastor’s fervor for ministry. Though the intended audience of this book is senior leaders within local church bodies, I firmly believe that any minister of the Gospel would benefit from reading. In this review, I will interact with Part 1 only.
The book begins with Wilson promptly calling out the “functional idolatry” of our attempt to arrive in ministry. He expressed the importance of all ministry contexts and platforms, turning the goal of a successful ministry away from size and flashiness to faithfulness. It’s difficult for me to express the relief that comes realizing I don’t have to arrive. Right where I am is where God wants me to be. This led to his thoughts on a pastor taking the lead in the characteristics found in 1 Timothy 3:2-7 and Titus 1:5-9. He really motivated me by the simplicity and sanctity of his writing on being blameless, familial, self-controlled, materially wise, instructive, and mature. Specifically regarding able to teach, Wilson says “Lots of people can preach the Gospel better than you, but nobody can preach a better Gospel than you if yours is the true one.” The truth of such a statement sets me free to preach apart from criticism or comparison.
Wilson talks about the priority of humility in the heart of the pastor and his ministry. Ultimately, he says the “proud pastor is the enemy of God” (p.64). Humility will lead to more than just a message of grace, but instilling a culture of grace within your ministry. Such a heart and culture of humility will result in a heart of confidence, based solely upon the Lord and not upon performance or personal strengths. I love how Wilson focuses on changing the scorecard—by focusing less on numerical success (e.g. salvations, baptisms, new members, etc) and focusing more on bringing glory to God and faithfulness to His kingdom.
Next Wilson deals with the need for pastors to be watchful. He issues a plea for pastors to proactively search their own hearts and see accountability with others. By leading the way in a pure life, he charges pastors to be watchful over their flocks. This discussion leads to the conclusion of Part 1—The Justified Pastor.
Overall, I love Wilson’s genuine humility in his writing. “If I had to sum up my roughly twenty years in church leadership positions, I would say it is a sterling record of awkwardness, foolishness, and outright idiocy, punctuated by brief moments of accidental competence and covered totally by the grace of God in the love Christ” (p.109). Isn’t this the heart-cry of all ministers? God, use me in spite of my foolishness and failures. Wilson uses the whole 2nd half of the book to address how we flesh-out ministering as a justified pastor for the sole purpose of God’s glory and His kingdom. Leave your comments below if you would like a review of the 2nd half, but for now I leave you with this:
“Some of you are storing up personal glories, selfish claims to fame, and badges of success, as if these will be presentable to Christ when He appears” (p.111). Let us lay aside the weight of pleasing others and building a name for ourselves for the sake of building His Name for now through all eternity.
Please read The Pastor’s Justification and let me know what you thought as well.
Andrew Hale currently serves as Associate Pastor of Education and Discipleship at Turning Point at Calvary in St. Augustine, FL. He earned his Doctor of Ministry focusing on church planting and revitalization through Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in May 2015. You can connect with Andrew on both Twitter and Facebook.