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The Chief Concern of a Pastor

Pastoral Responsibility  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Paul lays out Timothy's chief concern and most important task as a pastor

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Thank you so much for the privilege of being here this afternoon. It is a great honor to be the one standing here this afternoon giving the charge to the pastor. I am still relatively new in the ministry, this July will be my 5th year as senior pastor. So part of me wonders what I am doing up here giving a charge to a man who has had many many many more years of faithful walking with Christ unto spiritual maturity. Yet I will endeavor to share with you what God has shown me to be the chief concern of a pastor, who is given the charge to be a leader in his local church.
My charge begins with a question. What does pastoral authority look like in the local church? If you follow a congregational rule style of church government, so that it is the church as a whole that makes all the decisions regarding the governing affairs of the church, what kind of authority is left for your pastor? If you the church make all the important decisions, and in a very real sense your pastor needs to submit himself to the decision making authority of the whole church, then what authority does your pastor wield? How does he lead? How does he shepherd the flock? What does that look like?
I will attempt to answer that question from , but first I would like to lay some ground work before we get to our text.
I Tim 1.
1 Timothy 1:3 KJV 1900
3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
1 Timothy 3:1 NASB95
1 It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.
1 Timothy 1:3 NASB95
3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,
Paul leaves Timothy in Ephesus, to set the church in order and to root out of the church certain men who were teaching strange doctrines.
1 Timothy 1:11 KJV 1900
11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
This task that Paul leaves Timothy is nothing less than the duty of making sure that the glorious gospel of God is that which is thriving and flourishing and growing in the church- it was this gospel that was entrusted to Paul and now Paul was entrusting to Timothy.
It is the glorious gospel of God that also forms the primary concern of pastors today. This same gospel has been entrusted to us and must be the at the very center of everything we do in ministry.
1 Timothy 1:12 KJV 1900
12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
Paul is still, all these years later, he is still blown away that the Lord would consider him faithful, putting him into the ministry, entrusting him with the glorious gospel of God. In vv. 13-16 Paul reflects on just how unworthy he was of such a calling, that is he used to be a blasphemer and a persecutor of the church, and now because of the glorious gospel, he was in the ministry.
When you think about the gospel, and how God saved you, what is the only proper response?
I Tim
1 Timothy 1:17 KJV 1900
17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
This establishes the goal of the church and of the pastor- you have been entrusted with the glorious gospel of God, you have been called into ministry, and have been called to this in such a way that our Eternal King, immortal, invisible, our only wise God, would be honored and glorified for ever and ever.
How? How does the church do that?
That is what is at the heart of the letter.
Paul explains how the church does this.
In chapter 2 he gives instructions to the men of the church- the men are to commit themselves to the ministry of prayer- most likely this is public prayer in the church setting.
The women are to adorn themselves with modesty and submissiveness and inner godliness.
Chapter 3- Paul outlines the qualifications of the pastor and the deacon- since your church has been entrusted with the glorious gospel these are the kinds of men you must look for to put into positions of leadership in the church.
1 Timothy 3:14–15 KJV 1900
14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: 15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Here is the expressly stated purpose of Paul for Timothy- I am writing so that you will know one should conduct himself in the house or the household of God- which is the church of the living God, a pillar and ground of the truth. Not THE pillar and ground, but a pillar and ground of the truth. This church here in Janesville WI, is a pillar and ground of the truth. The church in Oconomowoc or Watertown they also are pillars and grounds of the truth.
is all about how a pastor, specifically Timothy, should behave himself in the church in order to preserve its ability to be a pillar and ground of the truth.
1 Timothy 3:16 KJV 1900
16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
Here is a fascinating verse, I’m still mulling this one over- great is the mystery of godliness (piety-more on this in a moment), then Paul appears to give us an outline of the truth that both leads to godliness and is the content of which the church has been entrusted with- God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
The in 4:1-5 Paul again brings up the warning of those who fall away from the faith, they do damage to the glorious gospel of God, instead the give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.
Then in v. 6 Paul begins his instruction to Timothy as to how he ought behave himself in the church.
1 Timothy 4:6 KJV 1900
6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
And here in lies my first charge. Pastor Hudson, if you are to be a faithful minister of the glorious gospel of God, if you are to bring glory to our Eternal King, immortal, invisible, our only wise God who has entrusted you with the gospel- Then:

I. You must be constantly nourished in the words of faith and of good doctrine. (v. 6)

If I could name one thing that would be indispensable to the ministry of a pastor it would be this- have your heart, your inner most being, constantly nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine.
Colossians 3:16 KJV 1900
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
2 Peter 1:19 KJV 1900
19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
What does it mean to be constantly nourished in the words of faith and of good doctrine?
1 Timothy 4:7 KJV 1900
7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
εὐσέβεια- piety, reverence, loyalty, fear of God, the pious follow sacrificial custom and take care of temples; awesome respect accorded to God, devoutness, piety, godliness.
Perhaps thinking about it in the negative can be helpful. One of the dangers of a pastor is the reality of “Burnout.” What does it mean for someone to burn out? They no longer have the energy, motivation, the inward devotion, the loyalty, the piety to keep on going. What is the defense, the counter point to burn out? Godliness, piety, devoutness.
Pastor, you are to exercise or discipline yourself unto piety/godliness/devoutness. What does that look like?
1 Timothy 4:8 KJV 1900
8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
Why use the comparison to bodily exercise or bodily discipline? Because the same discipline that is required to get into shape bodily- how much discipline does that require? How much discipline is necessary to stay on a diet? How much discipline is necessary to wake up at 6 am and exercise? What we ought to be doing is putting that kind of discipline that kind of diligence towards our spiritual lives- towards godliness.
This gives new meaning to being nourished up on the words of faith and doctrine.
2 Peter 3:18 KJV 1900
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Not just grow in knowledge, but grow in grace! Explain
1 Timothy 4:9–11 KJV 1900
9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. 10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. 11 These things command and teach.
I Tim 4.9
Herein lies your first kind of authority as a pastor. Your authority is not primarily in the decision making of the church- that is the responsibility of the church as a whole. Your authority is primarily a moral authority. And it comes from your preaching and teaching of the Word of God. But your preaching and teaching will be dry and stale and lifeless, unless you are constantly nourishing your heart on the words of faith and doctrine. You must exercise yourself unto godliness, you must grow in grace and knowledge, you must labour and strive for these things- your church depends on you to do exactly this. Maintaining the integrity of the gospel that has been entrusted to you, and not just maintaining it, but seeing the gospel thrive and flourish and grow in your church, and seeing our Eternal King, immortal, invisible, the only Wise God, be glorified forever and ever, this is in part, dependent on you pastor, being constantly nourished in the Word of God.

II. You must be so personally affected by the Word of God that you become an example to your church in every area of life (v. 12)

1 Timothy 4:12 KJV 1900
12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
1 Thessalonians 1:6–7 KJV 1900
6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.
1 Peter 5:2–4 KJV 1900
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Hebrews 13:7 KJV 1900
7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
Clearly, the example of the pastor is of utmost importance. And any pastor who is not so effected by his own laboring in the word and doctrine that it doesn’t also change every part of his life, is severely lacking in his authority in the church.
Here are the two elements of a pastor’s authority in his church- Preaching and teaching the word of God and his example. Which one is more important?
Recently I was challenged by this thought on the power of our example- It seems to be a general principle- children become like their parents, students become like their teachers, and churches become like their pastor.
If one day you are sitting in your office wondering why the people in your church don’t act the way you think they should, first ask yourself if you are modeling the way. How can you expect your people to do something that you yourself are not doing? Be an example, be so thoroughly compelled by the Word of God that it transforms all areas of your life, so that you can confidently say to your people, be imitators of me.
In closing I leave you with Paul’s words to Timothy:
.
1 Timothy 4:13–16 KJV 1900
13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
Pastor Hudson, I charge you on this day:
Be constantly nourished in the words of faith and of good doctrine.
And be so personally affected by the Word of God that you become an example to your church in every area of life.
For you have been entrusted with the glorious gospel of God, and He has considered you faithful, putting you into the ministry. What more can we say than this:
1 Timothy 1:17 NASB95
17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
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