Posted by: baptistthinker | September 17, 2010

Pastors Finishing Well

Much gets written and said about younger pastors. Men like Mark Driscoll, Francis Chan, David Platt, and Matt Chandler. These “young” pastors, and others like them, inevitably become the focus of publishing houses, podcasts, and speaking engagements. Everybody wants to know what’s going on in the lives of these men, everybody wants to hear their sermons. Their books sell like hotcakes, and it seems like their sermons are on every iPod. And these men do indeed seem to be men that God is using in a mighty way for His glory.

But, as I think about these men, I can’t help but have some other thoughts cross my mind. It seems that many young preachers long to be like these men, with a national platform. Everybody wants to be the next Mark Driscoll, visiting churches all over the nation. Or the next Francis Chan, authoring books that sell out in the stores within moments. And I’ll be the first to admit that I enjoy listening to sermons from these men. I have found material from them that has sharpened my mind, and influenced my life and thoughts. But I do find some inherent dangers in the fascination with these men.

The first danger, I think, is that some young pastors are turning these men into idols of sorts. They become heavily invested in one or more of these men, buying everything that they can get their hands on by them. And they go beyond that, taking up offense on behalf of these men whenever somebody says something even a little critical about them. The turn and base their entire ministry around every word coming out of the mouths of these men, hoping to turn their church into the next Village Church or Mars Hill. Now I do listen to some sermons by these men, and read some of their books. But, I watch these men carefully as well, to examine their lives. Which brings me to my second point.

My second point, is that in paying so much attention to these men, we forget about the older pastors. We forget about the men who have run a good race, and who are now finishing well. We forget about those men who have pastored for thirty, forty, or fifty years, without scandal or deep sin in their lives. They haven’t had moral failures, and they continue to preach God’s Word to their people, faithfully. They may not have a large church, in fact, their church may be tiny. But at that church, stands a faithful man of God who is now finishing his race, having fought the good fight and kept the faith. He has no book deals, he doesn’t have the national platform. But he has been faithful. Why do we fail to show the same love for men such as this, as we do to men like Driscoll, Chan, and others?

Let me say, that I was raised the son of a preacher. I have seen many men fall in the ministry, or heard their stories because of my situation as a preacher’s kid. I have closely known one man who has fallen in ministry. My pastor that I had as a child, is a man who is still in the race. He is in the process of finishing well. He has not had any moral failings. As long as I have known him, he has tried to do what is right. He has cared for my family. He loved me, even when I became a rebellious punk. I love that man dearly, as a father in Christ. In a different way than I love my own father. He was, in a way, different than some of these young pastors. Older, and wiser, I remember him as a humble and gracious man, who loved the members of his church. I remember him praying with me. I remember some of his sermons, although not many. I paid not a lot of attention as a young, unsaved man. But today, I wish I lived near his church. He served for thirty-something years in the church I grew up in until my early twenties. Now, he serves at a church in New Mexico. And I’m not close enough to hear him. I regret not paying more attention when I was younger.

And as I look around at the fascination with these younger pastors, I think of this older man of God. I think of those men of God, who still serve all over the country. Men who preach with wisdom and gentleness that comes with age, men who have memorized Scripture and make it part of their life. Men who still love their wives after thirty or forty years. If you have such a man leading your church, love that man. You should, quite honestly, love to hear his sermons more than you love to hear David Platt or Mark Driscoll, or whoever the young, popular pastor that you like is. God has given you a rare gift, a pastor who is finishing his race well. A man who loves Him, and who loves the people that God has entrusted to him. Treasure your time with such a man. You won’t always get another of his breed.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
(2Ti 4:6-8 ESV)

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Responses

  1. Excellent point. As a young man, I too am attracted to the pastor’s such as Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, David Platt, JD Greear, Darrin Patrick, etc. but absolutely see the value and wisdom in looking for those men who have lived in the trenches and are finishing well. I’m excited about the newer wave of younger evangelical, solid biblical preachers, but we would all do well to have more older, solid biblical men in our lives who have lived, loved and are finishing well.

  2. I have thought a lot lately about finishing well, not just in ministry, but in my walk with the Lord. I am still quite young and trying to finish seminary and other schooling and this is an article I needed to read. Some great points were brought up here. I am a member at a church where we have a pastor who has served for a long time and is faithful to the whole counsel of God and the people whom he is shepherding. I am not a big Driscoll fan, but I certainly like Platt, Chan, Alistair Begg, and other men who challenge me in my walk with God. The thing I and others have to remember is that he who is first will be last, and he who is last will be first.

  3. I can’t say as I’ve read anything written by any of the young ministers you cited. I know of them only as topics of blog discussions. You make a good point, though, about not being too obsessive about any man. I remember hearing a recording in which A.W. Tozer said something like: “I’m just a man, with the breath of life in him… heading for the same hole in the ground as you.”


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