Saturday, December 13, 2008

Seeing the people you serve as your joy

Yesterday I was refreshed by listening to the Sovereign Grace Leadership Interview Series with C J Mahaney, Jeff Purswell and Joshua Harris on "the pastor and his joy." Here is a snippet, which presents a wonderfully challenging reminder to view the people we serve as our joy. (The clip is from about 44 minutes in, and I recommend listening to it because the written quotes don't quite capture the passion of CJ in particular)

[Jeff Purswell]
...I love how - what a pastoral model this is - when [Paul] addresses the Philippians in chapter four, he speaks of them as, "you Philippians, my joy and my crown." What a model for pastoral ministry! God's people, whom he chose, for whom Christ died, are the objects of Paul's joy. And they are to be the objects of our joy. And so I think another question for pastors when you think of your people is can you say with Paul, "they are my joy"? And if not, then I think we need to examine how we're viewing them. Are we viewing them based on their performance? Or are we viewing [them as] those who were redeemed by Christ's precious blood?...

[CJ Mahaney]

Outstanding, Jeff. We pastors have to ask ourselves, do we - you said it so well - perceive those we have the priviledge to serve as our joy? If not, then we are not perceiving them as those for whom Christ died. And if we will remind ourselves that those we have the privilege to serve are those for whom Christ died it will transform our hearts towards them, transform our perspective of them and transform their experience with us as we encounter them. What a privilege it is in pastoral ministry to encounter individuals each day whom we can express this joy to and for and allow them to be the object of our joy, as a result of the saviour's sacrifice, to allow them to experience the effect of that joy upon their souls on a daily basis. What a privilege! What a pastoral privilege to be able to do this on a daily basis. And if you aren't aware of Christ dying for them, if you aren't aware of the evidences of grace that are present in them, this won't be the experience as you encounter them on a daily basis. So thank you for that reminder and exhortation. That is to be a pastoral priority, whether it's a personal conversation or through the proclamation of God's word on sunday, in whatever the context, it should be obvious to those we have the privilege to serve - you are my joy, thankyou for bringing me so much joy. That should be a common refrain they hear from us and a common experience they have with us.