Faithful pastors point to Christ. They share Law and Gospel. They pour out forgiveness. They long to connect their people to Jesus, so they grow in him. The pressures, though, are severe. Pastors “should” do so, so many things. Their sinful sheep pull and push. And believe it or not, pastors have sinful natures, too. They are very familiar with their own sins. They need the forgiveness they pronounce… but so often, no one offers it.
This book gives what so many faithful pastors need. It points to Christ. It shares Law and Gospel. It announces forgiveness.
Wilson has written exactly what I needed to hear. He announces Law. He shatters many of my personal idols, and I know not mine alone. He talks about people-pleasing and martyr complexes – two things of which I am supremely guilty. And he doesn’t give excuses. He doesn’t pull punches. He announces the Law: I have sinned by my fault, by my own most grievous fault. “The primary problem in ministry, brother pastor, is not them. It’s you.”
But then he doesn’t give me a ten-step program to get out of the pit I’ve dug for myself.
No, he points to Jesus. He reminds me that Jesus didn’t just come for my flock… but for me, too.
Pastors, will we seek justification in our reputations? In our church’s numbers and figures? In our retweets and links? In our podcast downloads? In a book deal or speaking engagement? In our own sense of a job well done? This is sand.
Or will we look up and out, away from ourselves, away from the fickle fellowship, away from Satan’s accusations and insinuations, up to the right hand of the Father, where our righteousness sits, firmly fixed eternal? There is your justification, pastor, perfect and big, bigger than you and better than you but bled and bought for you and birthed in you, yours irrevocably, sealed and guaranteed through both your successes and failures, through the pats on your back or the knives in your back. There is your justification, there in Christ, and because in him there is no shadow of turning, you are utterly, totally, undeniably justified.
Brother, you are free.
The book breaks down into two parts. Part One, the Pastor’s Heart, takes the reader on a guided tour of I Peter 5. Wilson gives Law and Gospel to knock down idols, heal with real forgiveness, and then motivate with Christ. Part Two, the Pastor’s Glory, walks through the solas of the Reformation and shows how they apply very specifically to ministry.
I personally found Part One to be far more useful, but that could be because I read Part One along with several brother pastors, and the bulk of Part Two I read after my move to a new congregation, so I didn’t get to have the conversation.
Either way, I found that as I read Part One, I nodded along so often. It’s as if Wilson is an old friend who knows me so very, very well. He knows where my weaknesses are. And it reminds me that I face no temptation that is not common – and no temptation that Jesus didn’t face and defeat for me.
I highly, highly recommend this book for both pastors and any other leaders in ministry. Church councils would benefit if they’re involved in the ministries of their congregations, as would leaders of Bible studies. It may not apply as much, but I think they would still benefit. The book doesn’t just diagnose a problem; it gives the remedy: Jesus, not as example, but as Savior.
I was blessed by this book, and I think your pastor would be, too.