Pastor to Pastor

One Goal, Two Aspects

Here's how our work glorifies God.

Ministry for Mission: Sent like Jesus (5)

Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith… 1 Timothy 1.5

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13.13

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22.37-40

“The sum of the law is this, that all may worship God with true faith and a pure conscience, and that we may love one another. Whosoever turns aside from this corrupts the law of God by twisting it to a different purpose.”

  - John Calvin, Commentary on 1 Timothy 1.5

The work of pastoral ministry
In this series we have been hammering away at one basic idea: The work of pastoral ministry is unto the glory of God through equipping saints to do good works.

The Lord’s shepherds must not be content merely with giving it their best shot – working hard at preaching, putting up with all the intrusions to personal life that come with pastoral ministry, managing the work of counseling and leadership development, and so forth. This is important, to be sure, and can bring glory to God. But merely doing the work of pastoral ministry is not the end of pastoral ministry. Realizing the glory of God – in our churches and communities – through the work of pastoral ministry is.

This focus on the end of pastoral ministry means we have to direct our efforts to the life spheres of the people we serve. We must teach them to identify and own their life sphere as a Personal Mission Field, where Jesus has sent them to abound in good works. We must aim all our efforts of ministry at equipping the people entrusted to us to live as witnesses for Jesus by their lives and words. And we must watch over our flock, taking care to know the spiritual health and ministry diligence of each member, caring for and nurturing them so that they live fruitfully for the Lord.

Thus, the glory of God which we seek through the work of pastoral ministry is realized not only by doing the work, but in the kind of outcomes God’s people manifest in their everyday lives. God is glorified in and through them as they faithfully do the work of ministry in their Personal Mission Field. This is the example of Jesus, and we have been sent like Jesus into the world (Jn. 17.4; 20.21).

But how is God glorified in the work of ministry we do in our Personal Mission Field?

Love over all
God is glorified in many ways: by the kindness and consideration we show others; by the excellence of our work. He is glorified in the way our speech serves to edify and encourage, rather than to snipe and whine. God gets glory when we listen sincerely to people, and by the various forms of service and encouragement we provide. Our careful attention to everyday details of beauty, goodness, and truth can honor Him; as does our boasting in the Lord, pointing out His abounding goodness, testifying of His holiness and love, and inviting others to taste and see that He is indeed good.

No pastor can equip the members of his church for all the daily opportunities for glorifying God they can expect to encounter. We can’t have a course or sermon or seminar on every day-to-day detail of life. No church member can keep in mind all the myriad details to be dutifully attended to in everyday situations. The work of grace and truth in our Personal Mission Field must flow from within us, as the natural expression of the kind of people we are becoming, rather than as items on a checklist to be marked off as completed.

We must count on some larger, more all-embracing objectives, and set our sights on achieving those through all our work of ministry.

The great and overarching goal of all we do in pastoral ministry is to equip God’s people for love. When the people of God are outfitted with love – in mind, heart, and conscience – the details of love will emerge as naturally as refreshing water from a deep underground spring. Love worked into the soul becomes love overflowing in the life. As Jonathan Edwards wrote in Charity and Its Fruits, “Consider that as a principle of love is the main principle in the heart of a real Christian, so the labor of love is the main business of the Christian life.”

Merely abounding in good works without love is not what we seek. Nor is merely professing to love without the works which demonstrate that love. As shepherds of God’s flock and equippers of the saints, we must labor to encourage and nurture in those we serve, good works that are motivated, sustained, and expressive of the love of Christ. And this love, of course, has two aspects.

Two aspects of love
Jesus revealed the heart of God toward His people, teaching that they should concentrate on loving God and their neighbors, for love is of the essence of God, and the summum bonum of His will for people.

God calls His people to fear and love Him, but they can achieve neither of these in their own strength. They must learn from the Word of God how to love Him, and what the indicators are of sincere love that God is seeking. The people of God must be equipped to handle the Word of God in their daily lives, reading and studying and paying careful attention to learn all that is necessary for loving God as Jesus did. Shepherds must continually bring the character of true love for God before the people they serve, insisting that they examine themselves by the principles of love, and take to heart the teaching that nurtures love for God in the soul.

Likewise with loving our neighbors. Most people are naturally narcissistic; our default fault is self-love. When self-love blinds us to our obligations in loving others, it has gone beyond the place God intends, and must be reined in.

This is not the kind of love Jesus embodied or Paul taught. Shepherds must struggle mightily against indwelling sin, self-interest, and misguided notions of love, to help their people gain the spiritual vision, orientation, and strength they will need for day-to-day neighbor love.

This is the work of God’s Spirit, working with the Word of God in the life of every believer. The shepherds of the church must equip church members to search, understand, rely on, and obey the Scriptures, praying always for them, teaching them diligently, and exemplifying in their own lives the love for God and others which is the end of all true ministry.

The end of all divine Scriptures is the love for the Being in which we should rejoice and love for the being that can rejoice with us in that love. … Whoever … thinks that he understands the divine Scriptures or any part of them so that it does not build the double love of God and of our neighbor does not understand it at all.

  - Augustine (354-430), On Christian Doctrine 1.35-39

Personal Mission Field
This is the sixth of several installments of this series on “Ministry for Mission”, in which we are investigating the believer’s calling to a Personal Mission Field. If you’d like a preview of the topics we’ll be considering, watch this brief video.

Resources for Shepherds
Visit our new website and the Resources for Shepherds page especially prepared to provide shepherds with a variety of resources and opportunities for improving their skills. You can even add your own items by clicking the submission form and posting a resource of your own.

Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, quotes from Church fathers are from The Ancient Christian Commentary Series (InterVarsity Press).

Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.


Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, quotes from Church fathers are from The Ancient Christian Commentary Series (InterVarsity Press).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.