Complete Patience

Speaking on pastoral caution when dealing with change, and recounting advice given to him by a trusted and “seasoned” pastor, H. B. Charles Jr. points the reader at 2 Timothy 4:2. Rather than focus on the “preach the Word” part, these men instead point us to the closing words, “…with complete patience and teaching.” Some great comments flow out of this:

“Complete patience” is long-suffering. It is patience with difficult people, not just difficult circumstances. This is not an easy thing to do. Remember, Moses stood courageous before Pharaoh and demanded that he let the people of God go free. But when those same people started complaining, Moses sinned against God and was disqualified from leading the children of Israel into Canaan. As pastors, we must not play the Jonah…I’m talking the Jonah at the end of the story, who carried out his ministry assignment with a hateful attitude towards the very people he was called to serve. We must patiently love the people the Lord has called us to lead and teach.

How do you learn to practice complete patience with the people you pastor? I believe it happens through a commitment to biblical teaching. Teaching explains and exhorts biblical truth…Our willingness to teach the Word with complete patience demonstrates our confidence in Scripture. It reveals that you believe in the sufficiency of God’s Word to do its work in the life of the church. At the end of the day, true spiritual change does not happen by “casting vision.” It happens by faithfully teaching doctrinal truth. This is an essential but neglected key to faithful and effective pastoral ministry.

On Pastoring, pp.89-90

All this goes towards making a great point. Sometimes, it is best to be slow. Our culture’s quest for speed and results doesn’t always line up with God’s timing. Teach, and teach again. Or as he comments, “Teach it. Then wait. Teach it again. Then wait. Teach. And wait.” If our aim is more than numbers, more than just a big reputation – whether good or bad – then we must be about the long haul. Commit to patiently and lovingly teach God’s word. A healthy church does not just materialize over night. It is the fruit of patient work. More than that, it is a work of God’s Spirit through that consistent and patiently preached and taught Word.

To Love Those To Whom We Preach

I am absolutely loving the 40th Anniversary edition of Preaching and Preachers, by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. His writing is passionate, clear, and helpful for anyone considering or engaged in the task of preaching. That’s not to say I wouldn’t quibble here and there – his comments on lay preaching (pp.113ff), for example – but overall, I’ve definitely benefited from considering the task of preaching and pastoring through this shepherd’s eyes.

As he begins to deal with the act of preaching, and what sort of character and attitudes should go into it, I was particularly struck by “urgency”. This is an area where I can certainly grow, allowing the message to both work on me as I prepare, and then work in the delivery so that the body recognizes deep down that this is not just more information, but necessary for their spiritual health and walk together as a body.

But for all that, the following caught my eye, as Lloyd-Jones deals with “pathos and power”:

Preaching & Preachers

Richard Cecil, an Anglican preacher in London towards the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth said something which should make us all think. ‘To love to preach is one thing, to love those to whom we preach quite another.’ The trouble with some of us is that we love preaching, but we are not always careful to make sure that we love the people to whom we are actually preaching. If you lack this element of compassion for the people you will also lack the pathos which is a very vital element in all true preaching. Our Lord looked out upon the multitude and ‘saw them as sheep without a shepherd’, and was ‘filled with compassion’. And if you know nothing of this you should not be in a pulpit, for this is certain to come out in your preaching. We must not be purely intellectual or argumentative, this other element must be there. Not only will your love for the people produce this pathos, the matter itself is bound to do this in and of itself. What can possibly be more moving than a realization of what God in Christ has done for us? Any attempt therefore to consider and to understand it should move us profoundly.

Preaching and Preachers, pp. 105-106

As we inch closer to Easter, its a good reminder that those who are elders and pastors are under-shepherds. We must be diligent to emulate the Great Shepherd, to learn true compassion from its source. We must not forget to love as we strive to persuade. And as we grow in skill and confidence, we must not founder in care. For certainly, the sheep will smell out the fake.

-redbeard

Sabbatical Progress – Week 2

Continuing what I began last week, I wanted to give you a little taste of what sabbatical has involved this week. Still a bunch of reading, but other stuff, too! God has been speaking through it all, answering prayers for wisdom and understanding, while at the same time challenging me in areas that I haven’t fully considered or in some ways hadn’t dared to consider.

  • I’ve continued to keep ahead with my Hebrew work. I’m really enjoying Hebrew! The approach taken by the author (the professor) is quite engaging. The workbook is really helpful for cementing ideas after doing the memory work.
  • I continue to make daily progress on 6 Ways the Old Testament Speaks Today. The readings on the voice of prophesy were great. Today, I started in on “The Voice of Wisdom”. The way the author sets Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes in contrast to one another was insightful, to say the least. Looking forward to seeing it fleshed out this week (and maybe just a little more from Song of Solomon)! This has been a great resource in daily engaging with Scripture.
  • As well, I am progressing through The Path to Being a Pastor. This is a really good book. It has been convicting, encouraging, and altogether challenging so far, and I am only a third of the way in.
  • Today, in coordination with our church’s week of missional focus, I began Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus. I’m only through the introduction, but J. Mack Stiles is already challenging and winsomely engaging the reader. As a side-note, I will say that John Power, who gave the sermon this morning, did a really good job. Also, all those who read Scripture came prepared and did an awesome job of doing more than reading – but really helping the congregation engage the Word.
  • On a more restful note, I have also taken some time for some fiction, with Asimov’s The End of Eternity and Ken Liu’s The Grace of Kings. Both authors do a great job at building worlds and capturing people.
  • And, as a final note on “rest”, after some grueling work getting the room clean and the puzzle table in place, I started a puzzle for the first time in a while. It’s going to be beautiful, although for now, I must say it is maddening. The pieces are not very firmly connected, so they shift really easily. Also, the distinction between pieces can be quite unclear. It will be slower-going than intended!

So, onward to week 3. And thinking on a number of themes that God brought together this week, I’ll leave you with this from Deuteronomy 6:

Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise…

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 ESV

After You Believe

I had the pleasure of preaching today, a 30,000 ft. view of discipleship. I quoted from After You Believe, and said I would post a link. Well, I will do just a bit more and provide the quote itself:


Love is great-hearted; love is kind,
knows no jealousy, makes no fuss
not puffed up, no shameless ways,
doesn’t force its rightful claim;
doesn’t rage, or bear a grudge,
doesn’t cheer at others’ harm,
rejoices, rather, in the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things;
love hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails…

Fair enough to hold before yourselves that astonishing portrait. But don’t imagine that you can just step into it on a cheerful sunny morning and stay there effortlessly forever. The last lines tell their own story: bearing, believing, hoping, enduring, never failing – all these speak of moments, hours, days, and perhaps years when there will be things to bear, things to believe against apparent evidence, things to hope for which are not seen at present, things to endure, things which threaten to make love fail. The phrase “tough love” now sounds hackneyed, a relic of social debates from the day before yesterday. But the love of which Paul speaks is tough. In fact, it’s the toughest thing there is.

After You Believe (pp. 181-182), NT Wright

That combined with much of the book of Ephesians, a portion of Luke 14 and Hebrews 13 is a great introduction (or more!) to the subject.

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