One or two times each year I pick up a book and within the first ten pages I already am thinking, “Wow, this book is going to wreck me.” Well, it happened again. Only a few pages into The Pastor’s Justification by Jared Wilson, I quickly realized this new book was going to challenge and encourage me at the same time. All pastors and ministry leaders must read this book. Now, without over dramatizing this much more let me dive into why this book is a must read for all pastors.
Jared Wilson walks through the experiences in his twenty years in ministry to help show pastors and ministry leaders that they need to focus their attentions on Christ, and in many cases come back to Him alone for their guidance. We must apply Christ’s work to all areas of our lives and rely on nothing that we can do. Wilson first looks at the heart of a pastor, and how there is a great danger for us as humans to forget we are human and easily get caught up in different areas of thinking we can go it alone. Through Christ comes the justification for the pastor and all that they are and will do. Pastors are humans, and will sin. They are not perfect, and often times we elevate the pastor to a place that is not possible. Pastors will sin and will fall short of the glory of God on their own, like all of humanity. However, they must find their identity and purpose in Christ alone, not in others. “The elder’s security, control, and glory are in Christ – indeed, they are Christ. And in Christ is our justification for sin and stupidity. (…) Why, then, would Peter pick these moments, his moments of greatest infamy, as his grounds for qualification? Because he knows what Christ’s suffering purchase for him. Total forgiveness, total security, total justification” (113-114).
Walking through the Solas of the Reformation in the second part of the book, Wilson looks at the pastor and their role with Scripture, grace, faith, Christ and the glory of God. The pastor must focus on these things in their lives and in the lives of those under their shepherding care. The pastor is to be watchful of his sheep while considering his neighbors and helping his church to be reaching their neighbors as well. A pastor must lean on Scripture for all as it is the supreme authority, and must be Kingdom minded. This can be challenging. We in evangelicalism have greatly become too focused on the number alone and the question “how many?” We have become so focused on the number that we have become possessive in our shepherding. We are to care for the sheep, but not keep them from growing. Connected with all this Wilson rightfully says, “If we are thinking of our church as Christ’s church, we know that we are not in competition with other biblical churches” (161). We are one, united under God. We must not forget this and look at our communities together with other churches knowing that no one church will reach everyone.
Just read the book. I believe all churches and their staff should read this book together. It focuses everyone on the mission of the church, and how we are to support the pastor in their leadership. Check it out today.