Written by: Ty Hayes, Pastoral Trainee
Consider how faithful the Lord has been to His church. All through church history God has been faithful to raise up Godly leaders to help defend the truth and proclaim the gospel. If the gospel is lost, so is the church. However, in these last days, the Spirit has been at work in every generation, raising up faithful Pastors who “guard the good deposit” (2 Tim 1:14) that has been entrusted to them.
I desire to be a Pastor one day, if the Lord is willing. The Lord has been very kind to me by allowing me to spend the last six months as a Pastoral trainee here at Sedro-Woolley Christ the King Church under Pastor David and the Elders. As someone who is aspiring to be in the gospel ministry full-time, their instruction in this season has been indispensable, and I’d like to share three of the lessons that I’ve learned from them. Perhaps these lessons will be helpful to others like me who are seeking the ministry.
First, faithful Pastors are men preaching and exemplifying a whole gospel to whole people. My denominational background up until my time here has been drastically different than my theological convictions. I was graciously saved by Christ in a very seeker sensitive church and have spent much of my church experience among them. (I would define the seeker-sensitive church movement as those who try to reach out to the unsaved person by making the church experience as comfortable, inviting, and non-threatening to him as possible.) I appreciate so much about my time with them and their passion to see God save the unbeliever, but I now understand the dangerous misconceptions they have about the purpose of the gathering of believers.
Through my time in conversation and study among Pastor David and the other trainees I have found great biblical clarity on the purpose and importance of many of our church traditions. The gospel isn’t limited to just our means of salvation, but is also our means of sanctification and ecclesiology (Ecclesiology is the study of the church). Everything from the songs we sing, the sacraments, the way we as God’s people live in community and how we prepare and deliver a sermon is a reflection of the redemptive work of Christ.
So with that in mind there is obviously nothing wrong with wanting to reach out to the unbeliever. In fact it's biblically mandated, but we must not sacrifice the glorious Holiness of God or the purpose of the gathering of the saints in order to do so. How we present is just as important as the reception of the gospel.
Secondly, Godly leaders don’t shy from conflict, but use it for the glory of God and the good of others. 1 Peter 5:1-4 teaches that God raises up and charges Elders among us to lead, love and protect us on His behalf. Much like a parent to their children or a coach to their team; Elders are here to lovingly guide us to maturity. Much of my time learning martial arts from my teacher was spent in correction. He had mastered something I long to.. I’m not one who gets excited about failing or being corrected, but I began to understand through the process the importance and blessing of loving leadership. Shepherding is just like this. Pastor David, our Elders, and my fellow trainees have all at one point had uncomfortable and sometimes plain hard conversation with me for my benefit. In this they loved me enough to show courage in fighting for my good even when it would be much easier to just leave it alone.
God uses loving Pastors and Elders to help encourage and edify His people. I could never thank them enough for this and I hope to be just as loving, courageous and wise in my leadership. “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40
The gospel isn’t limited to just our means of salvation, but is also our means of sanctification and ecclesiology.
Lastly, a Pastor needs to love the local church. Now this probably seems pretty obvious, but in bible college I came across so many people who talked often of their felt “call” of God, but not a desire to lovingly shepherd the local body. In 1 Timothy 3 we see that Eldership is something to be desired and in Hebrews 13 we see God calls Elders to sacrificially love and serve the church as is exemplified by Christ. We understand then that Eldership isn't something to begrudgingly do out of duty, but a sacrificial honor to God for His people.
These are three of the things the Lord has taught me so far through the Pastoral trainee program. I will conclude by asking the reader to consider how great a need there is for true gospel ministers, and for men who are already pastors to train them. Is there a man who adores the Lord Jesus? Has God’s grace led him to live a holy life? Does he desire the office and is able to teach others? Let him consider the ministry.