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Pastor to Pastor

A Warning against Unfaithfulness

It will ruin your ministry.

Edwards on the Ministry (20)

These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. 2 Peter 2.17

We’ve seen plenty of examples of unfaithful ministers in our day – men who’ve allowed their privileged office to become a means for aggrandizing fleshly desires. Each such act of unfaithfulness paints a stain on the Church, undermines the credibility of the Gospel, tarnishes the honor Christ, and leaves hurting and angry believers in its wake.

It’s easy to look askance at such men and to forget that we, too, are susceptible to temptations to use the office of pastoral ministry to make ourselves someone to be respected by men, rather than their servant. Our unfaithfulness may not be scandalous, but if we’re using the ministry to vaunt our own prestige or image, we are betraying our calling as shepherds over the Lord’s flocks.

We must ever look to Christ, and not to our own advantage. Edwards wrote, in Christ the Example of Ministers, “It will be our great honour that we are called to this work of Christ, if therein we follow him: for therein we shall be like the Son of God: but if we are unfaithful in this office, and do not imitate our Master, our offence will be heinous in proportion to the dignity of our office, and our final and everlasting disgrace and ignominy proportionably great; and we, who in honour are exalted up to heaven, shall be cast down proportionably low in hell.”

Not the kind of talk we hear these days. And that’s at least one explanation for unfaithfulness in ministry – lack of solemn warnings from our colleagues.

The devil will seek our undoing in various ways, and will appeal to pride, the flesh, the need to be unique, or just the need to be needed if that’s what it takes to bring our high calling into dishonor. Be on guard. Both for yourself and your fellow shepherds.

Resources for Shepherds
Men, four reading groups are scheduled for this fall, and we invite men in ministry to join us for times of lively discussion, fresh insights, new perspectives on our lives and ministries, and the opportunity to make some new friends. I’ll be leading or co-leading each of these groups, and over the next four weeks I’ll give you the information about each.

First in the line-up is Steve Smith’s Pagans and Christians in the City. This excellent study of the pagan/Christian confrontation begins in the early Church, follows through the ages, and shows us why and in what forms this conflict is flourishing in our day. He demonstrates the fallacy of thinking we live in a “secular” age and calls us to clearly see the relentless efforts of contemporary pagan religion to shut down Christian faith and dominate every aspect of life. Our first meeting is September 9 at 3:00 Eastern via Zoom, and we’ll meet every other Friday at that time through January 20. We have room for 12 men. If you’d like to join, send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Here are the other three books we’ll be studying in groups. I’ll share more about them and the times and dates over the next few installments:The Patient Ferment of the Early Church, by Alan Kreider. The first Christians won their neighbors by their habitus more than their preaching. Ralph Elmerick and I will lead.

The Case for the Psalms, by N. T. Wright. David Timbie and I will lead this study on why the psalms matter and how to make best use of them.

The Sermons of Columbanus. I’ll be leading our discussion of the thirteen extant sermons by this greatest of the Irish peregrini.

Our free course, “Parameters of Prayer”, is still available for any men who are interested. This is a six-lesson study that can help you stretch out and go deeper in your prayers. It’s a free resource you can use for leadership training or making disciples. Each of the six lessons has seven parts. Read and reflect, then answer the questions for discussion at the end. You can take the course on your own, or one of our Fellowship Brothers will happily meet with you via Zoom to review each lesson. If you’re interested, send an email to David Timbie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Men, have you ever thought you might like to become a Brother in The Fellowship of Ailbe? Our growing group of Brothers welcomes any interested men to consider Membership. There is a process and it requires a bit of work. But if the Lord is leading you to become part of our Brotherhood of mutually-edifying men, drop me a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I’ll send you some information and we can set up a time to chat.

Our book, Fan into Flame, provides a variety of assessment tools to help you in discovering ways of improving your ministry. It’s free, and you can check out the table of contents, listen to an excerpt, and order your copy by clicking here.

From the Celtic Revival
It’s the last line of this excerpt from the Life of Bairre (early 6th century) that arrests me:

Too numerous to recount or narrate are the miracles and mighty works which God wrought for St. Bairre. For no one would be able to narrate them all, unless he himself or an angel of God should come to relate them. Still, this little of them may suffice as an illustration of his inner life and his daily conversation, his lowliness, his obedience, his compassion, his sweetness, his patience and gentleness, his love and pity and readiness to forgive, his fasting and abstinence, his earnest prayer, his patient waiting, and his mind continually intent on God…He was also the heavenly cloud wherewith was fructified the ground of the Church, that is, the souls of the righteous with the drops of his peaceful and virtuous teaching.

  - Life of Bairre of Cork, (6th century)[1]

His heaven-oriented life “fructified the ground of the Church…” What a challenge to each of us! Let’s make sure we set our minds on the things that are above, where Christ is seated, so that we can have grace to cultivate the Lord’s vine for greater fruitfulness in worship and ministry.

Sign-up at our website, www.ailbe.org, to receive Crosfigell every Tuesday and Thursday and learn more from and about the great leaders of the Celtic Revival.

For a brief introduction to the Celtic Revival, click here for a free copy of our PDF, The Celtic Revival: A Brief Introduction.

T. M. Moore

Cowper on Preaching
William Cowper, hymn writer and poet, offered some compelling and convicting insights into the work of preaching in his lengthy poem, The Task. Our book, An Essay on Preaching, arranges those excerpts into a concise overview of Cowper’s views on late 19th century preaching in England. A free copy awaits you by clicking here.

Please pray

It is our privilege to provide resources and opportunities to equip and encourage church leaders in building the Lord’s Church and advancing His Kingdom. Please pray that God will move many of those we serve through this ministry to share with us financially in its support. If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal or Anedot, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


 

[1] Plummer, Lives of Irish Saints, p. 19.

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 the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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