In this issue of Pastorpedia, Knute Larson, Jeff Bogue, and Jim Brown talk about how a pastor should set a godly example.
Scroll down to read, watch, or download the PDF version.
And who will take care of my godly example?
This one is about the guy who stands up front and tells people how to live.
This one is about the “hardworking farmer” who should eat the crops first before he gives them to others (II Timothy 2:6 interpreted in a very probable way!).
This one is about the only person we can really, really take care of or pastor in a severe way. We can do discipleship and receive it; we can enjoy (usually) a very candid and close marriage; we can be one in a small accountability group with peers. But we are the only ones who can really truly guard our own hearts.
This one’s for us.
Knute, Jeff, Jim
What goals do you have?
- Be a man of God who does not argue with the Bible. “Humbly submit to the word planted in you.”
- My goals for godliness are much like any other committed Christ follower’s goals for godliness, so I would look into my own personal weaknesses and ask the Lord to help me with those things like patience, humility, giving a gentle answer to a question, compassion, attentiveness. These would be generally the things that I would not work well at.
- I also pray for certain things that are tied more directly to my leadership responsibilities, such as I often pray for wisdom, discernment, a sensing of the leading of the Spirit, and then always I am concerned about morality, ethics, sexual purity, etc.
- So my goals are more general. It’s not so much that I want to set an example that others would follow, but more that I would pursue Christ with a passion and live life in such a way that when you see me you can understand the heart and the mind of Christ—and have an understanding of how to pursue that in your own life.
- To be the man that Jesus has called, gifted, and created me to be, not anyone else, and to be the very best version of that man. I don’t want to waste the work Jesus did on the cross for me.
- My business card lists me as husband, father, pastor. So I long for my wife and kids to look at me and see me as a husband and father who does his very best to live out his faith in front of them, and to see me giving my very best to be the best husband and dad they could ever have. If I fail as a husband or father then I have failed as a pastor, too.
- I long to hear the words, “Well done,” from my Savior, so that shapes how I choose to live out my faith.
- I long to be please God and not man.
- I long to fulfill the mission Jesus has called us to do, to lead others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
- I long to be a godly shepherd who leads, loves, cares, and challenges his people to run after Jesus with unashamed passion.
- I long to be used by God to raise up generations of men who lead their families, homes, workplaces, and world in a dangerous, courageous way for Jesus!
- I long to leave a legacy of godliness that sets my kids up to win in this world and the world to come for eternity.
- I long to present my wife as a radiant bride before Jesus at the Bema Seat.
- I long to have a heart that is sensitive to the needs of our world and to be ready at a moment’s notice to go somewhere else if called by God to do so.
- I long for people to stand at my funeral and say the world was a better place because of the way I impacted them with the gospel of Jesus.
- Pragmatically, I want to be the fittest, strongest, most humble, godliest, courageous, most loving, most influential witness for Jesus the world has ever witnessed.
- To be the same person at home and in private that I am in the pulpit.
- To love God with more of my heart and soul and mind and strength than before, and people second. It is “like unto” the first, as King James said. I must model love and grace.
- To treat all people alike. I can have good friends, but cannot play favorites in the church.
- To walk as if Jesus the Christ walks beside me—that is my understanding of “present” in Romans 12:1: to stand beside, not in the sense of best buddies, but to obey.
- To be myself (only after all of the above).
What and who helps you with this?
- I believe being a continual learner of the Word of God helps me a ton, so I make it a discipline to read Christian authors such as Tim Keller, my favorite right now.
- Spend time in God’s Word and in prayer.
- I also surround myself with men who have a high degree of authority and complete license to speak into my life. My friends jokingly call it the “Jeff Bogue personal advisory council.” These are men that I have worked to build a friendship with. We pray together. I speak bluntly into their lives and allow them to speak bluntly into mine.
- Of course my wife, Heidi, helps me as well. I try to listen to her, be sensitive to her sensitivities, and respond accordingly.
- When it comes to this area of example, it seems to me that there’s a fine line between serving as an example and being idolized by people, and I work hard to avoid the latter. I do not want to be lifted up as a “holy man.” The example that I want to set is one of passion, vulnerability, transparency, and genuineness. I want to lead others well and I want my life serve as a beacon for others to know and love Christ. However, I refuse to cater to the demands and the insistences of others that I be a certain way, live a certain way, or perform a certain way. This is a sensitive tightrope to walk and one that has to be traveled carefully so as not to be defined by cynicism or arrogance. However, we must be who God has called us to be and must not be ashamed or afraid to live in the freedoms that God has granted us as well.
- Other brothers who speak into my life daily.
- My wife, who prays for me and speaks into my life.
- The Holy Spirit who daily reminds me of the ways I fall short or the ways I need to continue to press forward. I marvel at the conviction and challenge the Spirit shows to me daily.
- Daily reading of the Word of God keeps me grounded and affirms the path I am on.
- Extra- Biblical information, blogs, books, podcasts, and teachings that pour wisdom and guidance into my path.
- The urgency that comes with our lives being a vapor drives me to redeem the days that God has given me.
- The mere fact that I will stand before my God at the Bema Seat motivates me to give my best so that He will be proud of me.
- Looking at my yearly goals and evaluating how I am doing.
- My children and my church—they watch my life daily.
- The mere fact that from the foundation of the world God elected me to be on his team inspires me to live out my faith well because He loved me way before I had a chance to show Him that I love Him.
- God’s Spirit. I know He is in my spirit especially because of assurance of salvation and conviction of sin, usually right away or just before.
- My wife and some other very good friends and accountability partners.
- The church. I am not just saying that because I have to. Even in my present situation of being in different churches most weeks, I am strengthened by the worship, scared and dependent on God for the sermon, and reminded of my responsibility to the people.
- Being alone and knowing I am not.
- Memories of God’s grace to me in tragedies, personal failures, church and personal successes, and daily rigmarole.
- Kneeling once in a while to pray.
- God’s Word, especially through Paul.
Other thoughts on my godly example
God is ultimately the one who gives you influence and power, and He can at any moment pull the plug on that. I long to point people to Jesus and to see them experience and possess the love of Christ the way I do. Jesus is just too good not to share. There are moments when I am all alone that I am brought to tears because of His grace and love for me. I long for people to walk away from me and say, “Jim has been with Jesus!”
I wrote it in my “journal” when I was a young adult: “Everybody does exactly what he or she wants to do.” It helped me to refuse the blame others might put on me about their own growth, if I was pastoring with vigor. But it also reminds me not to blame anyone else for my own failures.
Pastorpedia is produced monthly by three experienced pastors: Jeff Bogue, of Grace Church, in several locations in the Bath-Norton-Medina areas of Ohio; Jim Brown, of Grace Community Church in Goshen, Indiana, a church known for its strong growth, family and men’s ministries, and community response teams; and Knute Larson, a coach of pastors, who previously led The Chapel in Akron for 26 years. Pastorpedia is brought to you by CE National. Visit cenational.org/pastorpedia for more issues and to read the bios of our contributors.