Wouldn’t it be great if every ordained priest and pastor were like John MacArthur?

What I would like to explore more is his fifth point about the Bible and preaching above from yesterday’s post:

The greatest personal benefit that I get from preaching is the work that the Spirit of God does on my own soul as I study and prepare for two expository messages each Lord’s Day. Week by week the duty of careful exposition keeps my own heart focused and fixed on the Scriptures, and the Word of God nourishes me while I prepare to feed my flock. So I am personally blessed and spiritually strengthened through the enterprise. If for no other reason, I would never abandon biblical preaching. The enemy of our souls is after preachers in particular, and the sanctifying grace of the Word of God is critical to our protection.

which leads us to MacArthur’s ‘What to Look for in a Pastor’, a talk he delivered at a conference in 2009.  Excerpts follow from this powerful exposition.

MacArthur shares with us his humanity as a pastor:

I understand what it is to be involved in sins of overt action and sins of covert action. I understand what it is to sin by not doing the thing that you ought to have done, by leaving great and needful and righteous things undone, while you preoccupy yourself with trivial things. I understand the spiritual battle. I’ve lived it. I’ve lived long enough to try to help other people fight this fight as well.

God’s grace:

It’s a joyous thing to walk with Christ. It’s a thrilling thing to see His hand on your life. It is beyond comprehension, and it is the reason why we sing to the top of our voice “to live in grace, this grace in which we stand.” It’s a profoundly joyous thing, but there is this constant nagging reality of the ever-present war against remaining sin, the world, the flesh and the devil.

The importance of solid, corporate worship:

God never intended you to live your Christian life alone. You are not to forsake the assembling of yourselves together, in order that you might stimulate one another to love and good works. You desperately need to be under the sanctifying Word of God on a regular, relentless basis …

He understands the danger of independent churches with no checks on the pastor:

… independent churches are troubling for a number of reasons, one of which is they have independent pastors who answer to nobody. There’s no outside controlling power. There is no superior group of mature, godly, experienced leaders who hold them accountable. It’s a freewheeling entrepreneurial kind of environment

The primary role of the pastor:

… “Feed the flock of God among you.” That’s the mandate. That’s what pastors do … We are not called to the culture. We are not called to revolutionize the neighborhood. We are not called to change the city, as such. That’s an indirect effect. We are called to the redeemed. We are called to the elect … Maybe just kind of looking a little bit at the analogy, if God has sheep, and says to me “MacArthur, take care of my sheep, and you’ll be accountable for how well you do.” Hebrews 13:17 …

Pay attention to how you shepherd your flock:

[Your] responsibility is to guard your own life. Sounds like 1 Timothy 4, “Take heed to yourself, and your doctrine.” Guard your own life, the purity and sanctity of your own life, and guard the flock of God. That is what you have been called to do. The Holy Spirit has made you an overseer of the flock of God. And how precious is that flock? Purchased with His own blood.

Protect that flock:

Part of shepherding the flock is the protection, the protection against those who come in from the outside and influence your flock. They may be pastors in another city, they may be television preachers, they may be radio preachers. They may be putting books, stuffing books into Christian bookstores, to which your people are exposed. The outside influences that have the tendency to corrupt your congregation must be guarded against. You must be a protector of your people from all of those kind of destructive influences.

Discerning a true pastor:

… You measure a man’s ministry, not by how many people he stuffed in the building, not by how many people he reaches. You measure the effectiveness of a man’s ministry by how Christ like his people are. That’s the only measure. Have they come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ? And there’s only one tool for this, and it is the Word of God.

The measure of any ministry is the maturity of that congregation. That in itself says that ministry to the congregation that God has given you, is a long term experience. And the average pastor stays something like two and a-half years in a church. Do you think people who do that see manifestly in their congregation the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ?

Helping the congregation to obey God’s will:

… We are endeavoring to produce a sanctified life, which is a worshiping life, and that worship manifests itself primarily in consistent obedience. Jesus said “I sanctify Myself.” What do you think He meant by that? Well sanctification is conformity to the will of God. And that was true of Christ, was it not? … One day in glory, we will also live in perfect accord with the will of God. That’s yet to come, but even now we press toward that Christ like obedience.

Recognising that the Bible is for believers, not unbelievers:

The Scripture is for believers. The Scripture is for regenerate people. It is for the elect. It is for the redeemed. We preach the Word to Christians … You can’t teach the Bible to nonbelievers. They will reject it … You know I’ve been preaching through the gospels for much of my ministry life …  I love it, but the one thing that you learn from preaching the gospels, is that the people never, never, never responded to Christ, until they were regenerated.

Evangelising so that unbelievers become believers:

You say, “What about evangelism? What about evangelism?” Believe me. The power of evangelism comes from holy transformed lives, lived out in the world and the proclamation of the glorious reason for that transformation, the gospel of Jesus Christ, coming out of the lips of credible lives.

On weariness:

People often say to me, “You’re not as funny as you used to be.” Well I don’t doubt that. Life isn’t nearly as funny as it used to be. The accumulated experiences aren’t really that funny. I hope I still have somewhat of a sense of humor. But Paul is saying, “I’ve lived under the daily pressure of concern for all the churches.” That’s not administrative load folks, that’s the passion of your heart for the care of the flock … You know the weariness of the ministry folks . . . the weariness of the ministry, is trying to move these people, and your own heart toward Christ likeness, and having to deal with all the failures, and all the weaknesses, and all the struggles. I tell my people sometimes … I’m going to give all that I’ve got in life to try to move you toward Christ-likeness

On selflessness:

Being in the ministry is not about me. It’s not about finding a people that like me, who take care of me. It’s about finding a people, into whom I can pour my entire life until Christ is formed in them

Wow.  I don’t personally know any ordained priest or minister who would say that.  (If you do, please leave a comment and elaborate.)

Yet, this is what being a pastor is all about.