Pastor Jared Wilson has written anew book entitled The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry coming out tomorrow. Jared was gracious enough to let me ask him a few questions about the book.
1. Why did you want to write this book?
I wanted to write a book for pastors that a) wasn’t mainly about “tools” or methodology, which most books for pastors seem to be about, and b) applies the finished work of Christ to the never-finished work of ministry. As a pastor myself, I find that I cannot share the gospel with my congregation or the people in my community very effectively when I am not centered on the gospel myself.
2. What is the main idea in the book?
That a pastor’s approval, validation, and success is not found in church growth, congregational feedback, or the achievements of ministry or public recognition. Pursuing those things for justification is a dead-end trek that reeks of condemnation. The book’s primary aim is to help its reader find his satisfaction in God’s grace in Christ alone.
3. The book is called The Pastor’s Justification, is this a book for Pastors only? If not who else should read it and why?
It is primarily for pastors, yes. I do think, however, that others could learn a lot about pastoral ministry and particularly how to encourage their pastors and even protect them from pastoral and congregational idolatry.
4. In conversations with other pastors what is the biggest pressure that churches put on their pastors and how can churches help to relieve this pressure?
I’m not sure if there’s a single biggest pressure but there are a lot of little pressures that all together amount to this: the pastor works for the congregation. He is their employee. In one very valid sense, this is true, of course. But pastoral ministry is not work for “professionals.” A pastor is both responsible for and responsible to his congregation, and this puts him in a very vulnerable position sometimes. Churches would do well to seek understanding on the particular fears pastors (and their families) face on a weekly basis — fears of not measuring up, fears of not being available enough, fears of not pleasing people, fears of only being as approved of as your last sermon or visit. Also, more specifically, it is rare for a pastor (or his wife and family) to be able to truly be themselves — warts and all, in total honesty and transparency and confession — with members of the congregation because the unspoken standard is that he must be “better.” This can be hugely damaging to a pastor, and by extension to his congregation.
5. What should pastors do so that their justification is not found in ministry success, but rather the finished work of Christ?
Remember to not simply study the Scriptures in order to teach and preach them but in order to be shaped by them oneself. Too often we are dealing with spiritual matters simply as an act of vocational responsibility and not more specifically as an act of spiritual worship.
6. What would you say to a young pastor who wants to become the next Chandler, Deyoung, Driscoll, Piper etc?
It’s not possible. Nobody can be the next anybody else. You can only be you. But you can be the next *you*, if you take time to study, grow, pray, invest, love, serve, and trust in Jesus. I would say this to anyone granted the privilege of a public platform/ministry, be it from publishing or speaking or both — Remember that local ministry ought to be the source of legitimacy for a public ministry, *not* the other way around.
7. What has been the hardest time you have had in ministry and what ideas from the book helped you in that time?
I would say that losing friends either through conflict or church discipline has been the hardest. Thankfully, it has not happened but a couple of times. In general, I deal most difficultly with just a profound sense of failure and “not measuring up” on occasion. It doesn’t often arrive from a recurring event but is the result of having failed in some way or other or simply disappointed myself or others. The whole book addresses this kind of thing, but more directly there is help in Chapter 1 (The Free Pastor), Chapter 4 (The Confident Pastor), and Chapter 6 (The Justified Pastor).
Thanks Jared for your time!
Make sure you buy Jared’s great book The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry
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