10 Marks of a Faithful Pastor (Pt. 1)

I consider myself a very blessed man. As a young pastor I have many reasons to count my spiritual blessings. God ordained that I would be raised in a Christian home where my father was both a faithful shepherd and mentor (he’s also a pastor). I spent many of my formidable years at (as Al Mohler calls it) “the Grace Community Church” under pastor/teacher John MacArthur. I was also able to earn degrees at the Master’s College and Seminary. In addition to these things, during the past 7 years I have been personally mentored by three giants in the faith: Pastor Jerry Wragg, Pastor Carey Hardy, and Pastor Joe Flatt. One can not overstate that importance of a godly mentor in a young man’s life and on a young man’s ministry.

I am currently serving at First Baptist Church (FBC) in Carmel, Indiana. Our senior pastor has been in full-time ministry for over 35 years now and more impressive he’s been at FBC for the past 32+ years. Recently I asked him a number of questions regarding his expository preaching ministry. I am going to post his answers on this blog in the next few weeks. Before I do that I want to share with you a recent sermon I preached (11/5) in honor of this man’s 32 years of faithful ministry.

Joe Flatt was just received the “Pastor of the Year” award from Baptist Bible College/Seminary. I hope this sermon will help introduce him to you as well as provide a litmus test for all of us who serve the Lord in FT ministry. May all who come behind us find us faithful!

10 Marks of a Faithful Pastor

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 says, “But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.

The Scriptures tell us to give honor to whom honor is due (Rom 13:7). More specifically, the Bible teaches us that the flock of God should ‘appreciate’ and ‘show limitless respect’ for the man of God. Isn’t that what 1 Thess 5:12-13 clearly requests? Those ministers who labor to the point of exhaustion on behalf of their congregations; Those who work like this: should be known, cared for, and deeply cherished… Sometimes we forget there are many different ways in which we bring glory to God. One of the ways we glorify God is by esteeming faithful pastors.

1 Thessalonians 5:13 says this appreciation needs to be clothed in agape love. Like children who cover their dolls in baby clothing so we the congregation of God should cover our respect for our pastor(s) in agape love.

Similarly, 1 Peter 4:8 commands us to,Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” This context of course is for the entire church to obey. All of us need to love one another in this manner. Agape Love covers both wrong-doings and short-comings. 32 years of God-honoring ministry will inevitably include a few mistakes. Pastor Flatt (being the humble man that he is) would be the first to admit this reality to you. Both Pastor Flatt and I adhere to the priesthood of all believers but we firmly deny the concept of papal infallibility. We are not here tonight venerating a new saint or worshiping a human being.

But we do acknowledge that the Scriptures teach us that faithful pastors (they themselves) are gifts from the Lord to the Church (Ephesians 4:11). Thus it is proper to honor them for their steadfastness and commitment. Yet, “the best of men, are still men at best!”

With that said by way of introduction, It is most appropriate to identify evidences of grace in the life of our pastor and to praise God for “there” faithfulness to us.

One of the highest callings and most demanding jobs in the entire world is to faithfully lead Christ’s Church. It is all consuming and requires a life’s work. Ministry is a great privilege but it also requires great responsibility.

(i) “Ministry” means constantly shepherding people; (and all people, are sinners).

Pastor’s shepherd sheep; and sheep, by nature: bite, kick, spit, go wayward, and sometimes even rebel. Shepherding spiritual matters of the heart is no easy task. It is actually an impossible job without outside assistance (from the Holy Spirit). When I applied for personal life insurance a few years ago, my tester informed me that the pastorate is a high risk job in regards to stress. I say now just a couple years later, “go figure!”

(ii) “Ministry” means constantly dealing with yourself; (and every pastor has his own struggles and battles).

Every pastor has to fight indwelling sin in his own life (Romans 7). Every pastor has to deal with his own finiteness and short-comings. Did you know that all pastors are Reformed? Better said, all pastors are in the process of “being Reformed!” We better not forget this. Not only do Pastors constantly deal with the sins of others, they also have to fight their own inadequacies. I am daily made aware of this in my own life and ministry and it is a constant source of frustration.

Finally, (iii) “Ministry” also means constantly dealing with matters of eternal importance.

The quotable John Piper put it this way, “The preacher’s mantle is soaked with the blood of Jesus and singed with the fire of hell.” Dear friends, does it get any weightier then this? The pastor’s lifework involves matters of eternal importance. Heaven & hell; wrath & forgiveness; condemnation & grace; these are the themes that control a pastor’s ministry. In addition to this, Hebrews 13:17 says, Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. There is a seriousness and a weight to this calling. Every pastor/elder will stand before God and “give an account” for the manner in which they cared for there congregations soul(s). Perhaps this is one of the reasons why “the Colonial” is often sober-minded. I think HE understands what’s at stake. For time sake we must move on.

I want us to look now to God’s Word and uncover “10 Marks of a Faithful Pastor.” God’s opinion is really the only voice that matters, right? We need to ask then: What characteristics does God value in a Pastor? What “Marks” separate faithful shepherds from all the rest? These “Marks” will not be an exhaustive list, but I trust it’s a biblical list.

I think you’ll be reminded tonight that we’ve been blessed to have this servant of the Lord, faithfully ministering to our body for over 32 years! I hope this sermon will motivate you first and foremost to praise God. That you’ll leave this place worshiping and praising Him for His unwavering covenant faithfulness; As well as deepen your appreciation for God’s faithful servant (pastor Joe Flatt)…To be continued


5 responses to this post.

  1. The verse in Thessalonians 5:12 in the KJV reads, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;”

    Having recently preached on this text, I know the word you translate as “appreciate” and the KJV, “know” involves a deep knowledge and assurance of the person set over the flock. The people must know the pastor or pastors set over them are worthy of honor. So many times, we call men into Christian leadership who don’t meet the biblical requirements and are not faithful men. May we pray God will raise up good men to serve Him in His church.

  2. David,

    Thanks for the great insight. It is so important to not only pray for our church but for the (universal) Church.

    Blessings to you-

  3. These are good things to remember while being assaulted with the tyranny of the urgent. We cannot emphasize too much the importance of the spiritual in the ministry. I look forward to the rest of the posts.

  4. GB-

    Thanks for your post. I plan on continuing this series over the weekend (or on Monday).

    Have a great weekend

  5. Posted by no thanks on May 9, 2007 at 6:55 am

    Your comments have been edited…

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