Notes and quotes from On Being a Pastor by Derek Prime & Alistair Begg.
1. “The pastor is called to preach the Word, to teach the truth to God’s people, to lead God’s people in worship, to tend the flock as a caring shepherd, and to mobilise the church for Christian witness and service, as well as administrative and leadership tasks.”
2. The call to ministry is that unmistakable conviction that a pastor possesses that God wants him to do this specific task.
3. Before an individual is called to ministry, they are called to fellowship with Jesus Christ, to holiness, and to service.
4. Those called to ministry will be keen to study the Scriptures, care for others, and teach and preach.
5. “No church is better able to confirm a call to the ministry than a man’s home church – it is the natural and appropriate proving ground.”
6. “The shepherding aspect of the ministry keeps us in touch with reality – with genuine issues and problems – as we teach the Word of God. To teach the Scriptures effectively we must apply them, and, with the Spirit’s help, we can do this only as we are in touch with things as they really are in the lives of men and women.”
7. Shepherds know their flocks well. They know who are lambs and who are mature sheep. They know who needs to be encouraged, who needs to be comforted, who needs to be urged, and who needs to be warned,
8. Robert Murray M’Cheyne: “My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.”
9. Robert Murray M’Cheyne: “How awful a weapon in the hand of God is a holy minister.”
10. The fruit of the Spirit is as important as the gifts of the Spirit in the life of a pastor, as for any Christian.
11. The apostles’ both heard and saw how things should be done in the three years of training they received from Jesus.
12. When any Christian falls into sin, he hurts others. When a Christian leader falls into sin, he hurts many others.
13. 1 Timothy 4:12 is unpacked in the list of qualifications Paul lays down for elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9.
14. “We cannot remind ourselves too often that the local church is not ours but His.”
15. The threefold instruction – “Feed my lambs”, “Take care of my sheep”, and “Feed my sheep” – highlights three principal areas of pastoral care. The young – both in age and in faith – are to be carefully fed; all Christians require general pastoral care; and established Christians need to progress toward maturity.
16. Every time we teach, it is appropriate to ask, “Am I providing good pasture for God’s flock?”
17. To proclaim the whole will of God means deliberately teaching the church from the whole of Scripture, both Old Testament and New Testament; both doctrinal teaching and moral instruction.
18. “Our goal is the holiness and the unreserved obedience to Christ of every believer.”
19. Our responsibility is not solely for the flock already gathered in, but for those other sheep that are to be called.
20. We must teach evangelism and we must teach it by doing it.
21. Those whom God calls, He equips – that is the testimony of the Bible, of history, and of experience.
22. Prayer has priority over the ministry of the Word in that it must come first.
23. Intercessory prayer is part of our pastoral care – “the principal part of our pastoral care is unseen by those who benefit from it, since it is exercised in secret.”
24. “I found it helpful to take our church membership list and to pray for the people on one page each day.”
25. There is a value in writing down requests we feel we should make to God for people. I have written in a notebook – preferably in a brief sentence or phrase – what has been most meaningful in my daily Scripture reading. This becomes the principal theme of my praying for myself and then for others.
26. A benefit of praying regularly and systematically for those for whom we have spiritual responsibility is that it prompts concern and action.
27. Let people know when you have been praying for them and what you have been praying for them.
28. Pray that preaching would be marked by clarity, conviction, and compassion.
29. Praying together should be seen as a principal purpose of a pastoral visit. Also pray with people over the telephone.
30. Don’t hesitate to ask God’s people to pray for you.
31. Before we are shepherds of God we are sons of God.
32. “A danger inherent in being paid for a task is that we may end up doing it only as a job.”
33. “The most helpful practice I know to maintain freshness is never to read my daily passage without writing down a word, a phrase, a sentence, or a whole verse that is especially meaningful, or through which I feel God is speaking to me.”
34. A difficult pastors have is not being ministered to because we are always ministering to others.
35. There is no conflict between the place of study in successful ministry and dependence upon God the Holy Spirit.
36. A pastor’s books are as essential as the furniture of his home.
37. If we devote just half an hour a day to reading we will accomplish a tremendous amount in a year.
38. There is considerable value in producing what is in effect our own systematic theology.
39. Study is not an end itself – its purpose is the proper feeding of Christ’s flock.
40. Proclaiming Christ in all the Scripture is the means by which men and women comes to faith in Him and go on to maturity of faith in Jesus Christ.
41. “One reason I would discourage a young man from training for the ministry straight from school or university is that he probably does not have that experience of life that will be so important in relating his ministry of God’s Word to men and women’s real life situations. There is much to be said for working for a while in ordinary employment, no matter how humdrum, so as to share what is the experience of the majority of people.”
42. “The mark of a good teacher is that what is difficult and complicated becomes simple to understand.”
43. Leith Samuel: “Think yourself empty. Read yourself full. Write yourself clear. Pray yourself hot. Be yourself, don’t preach yourself.”
44. A good teacher, clears the way, declares the way, and then gets out of the way.
45. Why children’s talks? “When children are taught effectively in congregational worship, everyone gains something, and the teaching addressed primarily to the children becomes part of the instruction of adults.”
46. In all our preaching we are dependent on the Holy Spirit.
47. Pastoral care is the practical, individual, and spiritual care of Christ’s people as His lambs and sheep.
48. “Visiting enhances our preaching in that it helps us to appreciate how our fellow believers think, their problems, and their temptations. When we preach to those we know well, and whose situations we understand, we apply God’s truth more relevantly, almost unconsciously—and probably the less consciously the better.”
49. Good undershepherds know their sheep, and their sheep recognise them to be their undershepherds. To know someone we need to know both their name and character.
50. Prayer is the most effective means of pastoral care. We can pray for people when we cannot visit them. We can pray for people when they would not want us to pray with them.
51. Always let your people see that you are interested in them.
52. Four key words in New Testament used of pastoral care: encouragement, exhortation, admonition, and counsel.
53. A pastoral visit is more than a social call. Yet there is a social aspect to it in that we are interested in people as people, their families, their concerns and interests.
54. We must never forget that a purpose of our visit is to get to know people and their circumstances well, so that we can be faithful in private prayer for them.
55. Visit every household in the church once a year is a good aim.
56. There are situations where a letter is better than a visit or can prepare the way for a visit.
57. The larger the church, the more the regular and systematic pastoral care and visitation will need to be shared.
58. We can never remind ourselves too often of our dependence upon God.
59. Our praying in public must not be limited to immediate and urgent needs but should include spiritual priorities like the growth of the fruit of the spirit, practical holiness and evangelism, and moral priorities such as justice, righteousness, and social concern.
60. The church of Jesus Christ does not progress beyond the spiritual progress of its leaders.
61. How do we lead? We lead by our capacity to make decisions; by our drive and enthusiasm; by our readiness to accept responsibility; by our ability to convey a vision; by knowing what has to be done, when it should be done, and how it should be done; by the exercise of faith and the proper optimism it produces; by keeping our head in all situations; and by recognising that there are occasions when we must positively exert ourselves to lead.
62. “Regular and systematic teaching of the Scriptures has been the best and most effective means of leadership.”
63. As often as church leaders meet for ‘business’ they should meet for prayer.
64. “A principle reason for shared leadership is that it keeps us under the discipline of others.”
65. Why don’t we delegate? Is it because by delegating responsibility someone else may be given prominence and perhaps push us out of the public eye? Is it because we fear being displaced in people’s affections? Is it because the person will do the job better than we do it ourselves and prompt people to feel we could have done it better? Is it because we are possessive? Or do we fear that the task may not be done well?
66. Wise division of labour helps efficiency.
67. If we believe in the parity of elders, and the pastor as one of the elders, then elders should be ordained in exactly the same way as “ministers” or “pastors.”
68. One elder must not do the whole work of the eldership.
69. An effective way of delegating pastoral work is to divide up a fellowship’s membership between the elders, with each elder having a group.
70. We and our families are more prayed for than any other members of our church fellowship, and a value cannot be put on those prayers.
71. “The best principle is to expect nothing from God’s people, so that we are never disappointed—for disappointment breeds grudges—and then we will be surprised by unexpected thoughtfulness and generosity.”
72. The confidentiality we expect of our fellow elders concerning elders’ business we must follow ourselves.
73. The best way to safeguard a regular time with your wife is to have a day off each week.
74. In determining my day off, I chose the day in the week when there were no church meetings requiring my involvement.
75. We all need something of interest, totally distinct from our work, to which we can turn our minds for rest and relaxation.
76. “In the first year, they idolise you; the second, they criticise you; and in the third they ostracise you.”
77. The trials of the ministry require two virtues in particular: patience and self-control.
78. “A major benefit of longer rather than shorter ministries is that they provide the opportunity for the exercise of patience, and in particular the patient sowing of God’s Word, to bring about the change and progress He purposes.”
79. If criticisms are just, we should be thankful and act upon them as part of God’s gracious discipline. If they are unjust, we should commit our cause to God who judges justly, even as our Saviour did
80. Stress comes through the open-ended nature of our work and our essential commitment to people.
81. “Ministering to others, whether in pastoral care or public teaching and preaching, tends to make us prominent and puts us in the public eye. We may easily slip into the snare of enjoying our work for the wrong reasons. Unconsciously we may give a false impression of superiority, and live for people’s approval and applause, forgetting how ordinary we are.”
82. John Thornton told Charles Simeon that there are three lessons which a minister has to learn: “1. Humility. 2. Humility. 3. Humility.” Afterward Simeon wrote out twice in his private notebook in large letters, “Talk not about myself.”
83. “Jealousy and worldliness in the ministry arise from pride. We can be jealous of other ministers who are in large churches or who are more obviously successful than we are.”
84. Success is finishing the work God has given us, and no one else, to do.
85. John Brown’s prayer that “I may not tear God’s Church, mangle His truths, betray His honour, or murder the souls of men” should be on our lips often.
86. “As shepherds we have responsibility for the sheep, and as teachers we must practice what we teach. As shepherds we must seek the other sheep that have to be brought into the fold, even as the Chief Shepherd did, and we must teach and preach faithfully the only gospel by which men and women can be saved.”
87. If we feel out of our depth in the ministry, that is good, for we are.