Keeping Watch Over Our Souls

Pastors have it rough. There is no arguing that. From counseling sessions to spending hours upon hours in sermon prep, pastors then get to hear the occasional jokester say, “Don’t you just work one day a week?”

As one who “aspires to the office of [elder]” (1 Tim. 3:1), I have a special place in my heart for pastors who are genuinely trying to glorify God in their work. As such, I want to dedicate this blog post to my four pastors: Randy Tyler, Justin Wright, Paul Wilson, and Paul Priest.

My aim here is to give you a little glimpse into how blessed my family is to sit under these men as congregants but to also give you some general encouragement as it relates to your pastors.

Take Their Sermons to Heart

Though preaching is arguably five percent of the “job,” it nevertheless is what excites pastors the most. (I’m sure that’s not universal, but surely the majority.) Pastors spend countless hours prepping their sermons to ensure they are biblically sound, accurate, and faithful to God.

In light of this, what is the best thing you can do? Take your pastor’s sermons to heart. Be attentive. Listen to what they say. Hopefully, what they are saying is what the text is saying. If your pastor consistently doesn’t preach a faithful message, it may be time to find a different church.

But that is not so with the church my family attends. We are blessed to sit under faithful teaching and preaching. Week in and week out, we can expect our pastors to preach a faithful message from the Bible and know it wasn’t distorted. This doesn’t mean they are perfect, but it means they are always meaning to please God in their sermons.

We don’t ever have to worry about getting fed false doctrine, shallow theology, or Scripture that was eisegeted. They preach “Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2) with no apologies!

Don’t Despise Discipline

Friends, don’t be discouraged when you come into a situation where you find yourself under church discipline. As a matter of fact, church discipline is one means by which God continues to sanctify you. Yes, being under church discipline—whether formally or informally—means there’s something wrong with you. You have done something wrong or continue to do something wrong. But it is not punishment. It’s not condemnation, but a means of restoration.

The bigger issue, though, is the scarcity of churches that practice church discipline. I don’t want to paint with a broad brush, but churches that don’t practice church discipline in some form are really no more than a Christian social club. How do we expect Christians to grow in the Lord if there’s no accountability? The Lord instituted church discipline, so churches must practice it even though it may be gruesome at times.

Though I’ve never been put under church discipline by my pastors, I most certainly have been rebuked—and rightfully so. Why? Because I am sinner and sometimes I say or do things that are unwise. As a result, I was lovingly put in my place. It wasn’t a great feeling and I didn’t respond well at first, but it was necessary for my growth not only as a Christian but as one who aspires to pastoral ministry.

I am thankful to sit under pastors who are willing to have these tough conversions—because the gospel matters.

Check on Them

Your pastors are human. They sin just like we do. They have struggles, pains, and shortcomings. Pastors aren’t super-Christians, but have simply been called by God to be under-shepherds. Therefore, we should check on them—often.

Pastors are not excluded from temptation. Elders are not insusceptible from discouragement and depression. You think we need pastors? They need their congregants all the more.

I’ve heard it said a million times from my pastors: their darkest days are Mondays. They preach the sermon and feel like garbage afterward. That is a perfect time to call or send them a simple text message of edification and affirmation. Don’t text to appease or flatter. Text to encourage. Call to uplift. Contact them to let them know you care for them just as they do for you.

These men—hopefully a plurality of them!—take great care in watching over your soul, as the author of Hebrews says. It’s a job, sure. But more than that, it’s a divine calling. Not just anybody can be a pastor. Not just anybody can be an under-shepherd. Not just anybody has the God-given capacity to preach, teach, counsel, and shepherd.

Friends, if you’re in a biblical church—and I hope you are—take the time out of your day every now and then to text, call, or meet up with your pastor. You will never truly understand how much it means to them to hear your encouragement.

Your pastors are there to keep watch over your soul. Make it easy for them to do that.

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