Chatting with my sister recently we fell upon the subject of “tapioca”. I have a violent dislike for the pudding, which probably stemmed from being served it at school lunches. Predictably we kids called it “frog spawn” and made the unreasonableconnection that it probably tasted just like the real thing! It’s funny how early influences in life can leave such an indelible mark on a person.
One book that has had a lasting impact on me is The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter. I read it in bible college in the mid 90’s and returned to it again in my last sabbatical. It has always featured in my thinking and practice as a pastor. Baxter was born in 1615, was mentored by John Owen, and became a leading figure in the Puritan stream of Christianity. He said that he “preached as a dying man to dying men”. Ministering in Kidderminster, he saw virtually the entire town of 2,000 people converted, most of whom
were not previously pursuing the Christian faith.
In his aforementioned book, he outlined five ways a minister ought to keep watch over his own soul. Two of them are concerned with “the grace of
God” (perhaps that is why it drew me back last summer). But he also outlined seven primary duties for a pastor over a congregation, as follows:
1. Labour for the conversion of the unconverted.
2. Give answers to seekers who are under conviction of sin.
3. Study so you can build up those already in the faith. 4. Exercise careful oversight of families.
5. Be diligent in visiting the sick.
Chatting with my sister recently we fell upon the subject of “tapioca”. I have a violent dislike for the pudding, which probably stemmed from being served it at school lunches.
Pastor’s Patch – Feb 2019
6. Be faithful in correcting and admonishing offenders. 7. Be careful in exercising church discipline.
These duties still provide me with a challenge and an encouragement. What greater joy than to be working alongside a congregation and a community in these areas of their lives? There seems to be no part of life that remains untouched or “out of bounds” for a church leader. Everything in a leader’s life is under the microscope of God’s inspection, and in turn a leader is to help people know that our heavenly Father is interested in every part of their life too. Thankfully, this burden is now shared with Mike Hudson and the Elders in the church, and though we may all fail in many ways at least we have standards to aim for.
The church leader Timothy was taught by his mentor (the apostle Paul) things that we can read in the letters 1 and 2 Timothy. Of all the teaching, Paul wrote,
Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding onto a faith and a good conscience (1 Tim ch1 v18-19)
May we all continue to “fight the good fight” and encourage one another to do the same. Our fight is not an earthly one but a spiritual one, yet Jesus has already won the battle. So let’s fight on in the power of God’s Holy Spirit in the highs and lows of our everyday lives.