Lessons for a Young Pastor: The Oversight of Ourselves

Every pastor needs a pastor, especially young pastors.  Timothy had Paul, and for young pastors today we have a wealth of experienced pastors (both past and present) to teach us through books, blogs and talks.

As a young pastor I want to and need to listen and learn from these men.

Here are some lessons I’ve learnt from Richard Baxter through an updated version of his book The Reformed Pastor called Watch Your Walk.

Lesson 35: The Oversight of Ourselves

Baxter has a great concern that pastors take heed of themselves.  He says:

“We are exhorted to take heed to ourselves, lest we should be void of that saving grace of God, that we are offering to others… Is it possible also that many a preacher is now in hell who has called upon his hearers a hundred times to use their utmost care and diligence to escape its dark destiny?”

“We are exhorted to take heed to ourselves, lest we live with those actual sins that we may preach against in others… Take heed then to yourselves, lest you cry down sin and yet do not overcome it in yourself.”

“We need to take heed to ourselves that we may not be unfit for the great tasks that we have undertaken to complete… Therefore, brethren, lose no time: Study and pray, converse and practice.  By these four ways your abilities will be increased.”

“We need to take head to yourselves, lest you exemplify contradictory doctrine… It is an obvious error for all to see in those ministers of the church who make such a wide gulf between their preaching and their living.  They will study hard to preach exact, and yet study little or not at all to live exactly.”

What are some of the motives for this oversight of oneself?

1) You have heaven to win or lose yourselves.

“How tragic it is that we should study and preach so many sermons of salvation – and yet fall short of it!”

2) You have a depraved nature.

“It is vital for us, then, to realize how weak we really are.  Then we will be careful with the dieting and exercise of our souls.”

3) You have greater temptations and more exposure to them than other men.

4) Because the tempter will make his first and sharpest assault on you.

“He hated Christ more than any of us because He is the “Captain of our Salvation.”  So Satan hates the leaders under God more than the ordinary soldiers.”


“You are more likely to sin against knowledge because you are better informed than others.”

“Your sins will reveal more hypocrisy than those of other men because you have spoken so much against them.”

“Your sins have more treachery than those of other men.”

Four reasons why he who would serve others must take heed to himself:

1) How can it be expected that God will bless the labour of a man who instead of serving God is working for his own self-interests?

2) A pastoral ministry will scarcely be successful if one is not doing his work heartily and faithfully so.

3) Do you think someone can fight against Satan with all his might, who is the servant of Satan himself?

4) People will not likely have much regard for the doctrines of those who do not live as they preach.

“God may, and sometimes does, do good to His church through wicked men, but He does not do so usually or prominently.  Rather His normal way is to use His faithful servants.”

[Taken from Chapter 3: The Oversight of Ourselves]