In contrast to John Ryland’s profound thoughts on the office of Christian preacher, I would like to share a clip from a modern pastor who mocks nameless congregants for wanting to go deeper into God’s word:
In this clip, after mocking the congregant by using a derogatory word against them, Perry Noble, demonstrating pastoral patience and concern, tells this audience of 2000 pastors, “You know what I tell them? I tell them, ‘Your only as deep as the last person you served.'” He then implies threatening to look at their tithing and service record to “see how deep you are”.
Later he accuses the motive of the congregant(s) stating that the reason why they want him to go deep is so that he would stand up on Sundays and “confuse the heck out of you so you don’t have to apply what I teach on Sundays — I could do that.”
Contrast that with John Ryland’s comment about pastoral ministry for a moment, “The great design and intention of the office of a Christian preacher are to restore the throne and dominion of God in the souls of men…”
What a contrast! How many of the flock are starving for the greatness of God, wanting to feast upon His presence in worship only to find that their shepherd is too lazy to lead them to the green pastures?
What should Christian worship look like? Is it not compared to a feast wherein a soul is satisfied? Consider Psalm 63:
Psalm 63:1 A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. 3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. 4 So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. 5 My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
“My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness…”. Is this what we hear Mr. Noble telling other shepherds? The picture David gives us is a contrast of starvation and thirst in a barren land.
Living in the Arizona, I can relate to the picture of thirst very well. I have been on hikes when there was no water around and it was very hot. Knowing that I would need to walk another quarter mile before any water is available can be anguishing and frustrating as I long for that moment of refreshment. And when it comes, there is grace or dignity. There is only ravenous drinking until I am satisfied.
David pictures himself in a barren land and when he finally comes to the presence of God he gorges himself. Nothing can satisfy him like being in the presence of God.
This is the great responsibility of a Christian pastor. He provides the Word of God so that the people may gorge themselves in great and holy worship of God. He is not to berate his people for being ravenous in their appetite. The infinite God alone can satisfy the deepest spiritual longings.
1 Timothy 5:17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.
Be thankful for the diligent preparation of your pastor if he works hard at preaching and teaching. Be sure to encourage him that he is doing the Lord’s work and faithfully executing his charge. It would be easier for him to pass on this responsibility and simply provide heart-rendering stories or self-help style homilies, but if he labors to bring forth the “whole counsel of God” thank him personally, and thank the Lord for him. And then pray the Lord will raise a thousand more like him.