The Essence of Pastoral Ministry

If forced to summarize the essence of pastoral ministry into one word, I’d go with delight. That’s a far different answer than I would have given in my younger years.

Pastoral ministry is about delight. Specifically, it’s about delight in God, Scripture and his church.

Delight in God

Our first and primary task—or maybe privilege—is to delight in God. It’s our first and primary responsibility. Without this, the rest of pastoral ministry falls short.

Pastors lead best when they can say:

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73:25-26)

We’re commanded to delight ourselves in God (Psalm 37:4). While other skills are necessary to pastor well, nothing can replace this foundational task. When a pastor learns to delight in God in the ups and downs of life and ministry, that pastor has something to offer. It’s something the church needs.

D.A. Carson reminds us that people don’t learn what we teach. They learn what we’re excited about. In the same way, I’d argue that people learn most not from what we preach. They learn best from what we delight in. There’s nothing like listening to a pastor who is actively delighting in God.

Delight in Scripture

I’m struck by how many times the psalmist talks about delighting in God’s Word; Psalm 40:8; Psalm 112:1; etc.). I love to hear a pastor stand up and not just preach God’s Word, but delight in it. I was listening recently to a sermon by one of my favorite preachers. I benefited not only by what he said, but also the way that he said it. He loves God’s Word.

I want my people not just to learn the content of the Bible when I preach. I want them to learn how to love Scripture.

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Source: Church Leaders