Be Wise About Selecting a New Pastor
Tim LaFleur, Message
November 8, 2015
If you have your copy of the Word of God, turn if you would to the book of I Peter and Chapter 5. The book of I Peter and Chapter 5. During these days we have been talking about godly wisdom. And so, what I want to talk to you about today is very near and dear to my heart. I want to talk to you about being wise about selecting a new pastor. Be wise about selecting a new pastor.
Chuck Swindoll said it this way; he said, “If you want a pastor in an evangelical church, what you have got to have is the heart of a child, the head of a theologian and the hide of a rhinoceros.” That is what he said. It is not easy being a pastor of a church. Do you know that? The challenges are many; the encouragements are few. Somebody asked me the other day, what is the best thing about Brainerd Baptist Church? And without hesitation, I said, it is the people who make up Brainerd Baptist. Amen? And God has blessed our church with some wonderful people. And as wonderful and as loving as you are, from time to time, there are challenges that a pastor will experience. His fault, their fault, nobody’s fault; just the way things happen. And so it is difficult to be, not just as a pastor, but to be a godly pastor. Think about that.
Peter writes to pastors and elders of the churches that are disbursed because of their faith in Jesus. They are suffering intense persecution. They are suffering…going through times of suffering. It is a tough time. And so Peter writes in the book of I Peter timeless truths for tough times. And during the course of that, he writes to pastors.
Now here is a principle. During difficult days of sustained suffering, you and I need godly, spiritual leaders. Amen? When you and I go through the tough times, we need godly, spiritual leaders. In fact, the whole book of I Peter is kind of how do you handle persecution? How do you handle suffering? How do you handle adversity in your life?
Look at I Peter Chapter 5 and Verse 10. This is sort of the theme of the book. Look at what he says. He says, “But may the God of all grace, who called us to eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while…” do you see that? That is key. “perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you.” And so what Peter is saying is, God is going to use adversity to accomplish His purposes. Earlier in that chapter he writes to the elders. Look at Verse 1-4. And basically three words are used here to describe a pastor of a church. He uses the word “elder.” He uses the word “shepherd,” from which we get our word “pastor” from. And he uses the word “overseer.” They are to take the oversight or they are to serve, he says, as overseers.
Look at what he says to these pastors. And listen, he is writing to a church that is suffering, that is being persecuted for their faith. They are going through a tough patch. They are going through a very difficult time. And here is what he is telling them. He is telling them that God is going to use it to accomplish His purposes in their life. Listen, because they were scattered, the pilgrims of the dispersion, Peter calls them in Chapter 1 because they were scattered, the gospel is being furthered. And sometimes that is the way God does it. He allows a people to be persecuted so that they can be scattered to further the gospel. And so he writes to these pastors.
Look at it in Verse 1. He says, “To the elders who are among you, I exhort. I, who am a fellow elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed, or will be revealed.” Look at what he says in Verse 2, “Shepherd the flock of God. Shepherd the flock that is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly; not for dishonest gain, but eagerly, nor as being lords” …look at Verse 3, “nor as being lords over God’s heritage or God’s people entrusted to you, but examples to the flock.”
Notice Verse 4. “And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” And so Peter is saying that if a pastor would be faithful, if a guy would be a godly pastor, if we are faithful to the calling of God on our lives, there is a special crown reserved for us. He calls it a crown of glory. It will never fade away. And more than anything else, I want to be that guy. I want to be a faithful pastor. I want to be a godly pastor. And the reason I want a crown is not for myself, but one day I will be able to lay it at Jesus’ feet, Amen? And say, everything is for Your glory, God. Everything. All glory and honor and praise belongs to You.
And so my goal today is simply this: I want to share with you the character qualities required to be a godly pastor so that you can select God’s man for Brainerd Baptist Church.
Let me tell you something. Here is my conviction. Here is what I believe. I believe Brainerd’s best days are ahead. I believe God is going to bring a godly pastor and family to this place who will serve you well. I believe our selection team, whoever they may be, is going to make prayer a priority. They are going to get on their face before God and they are going to hear from God and follow after Him. And God will lead them as they are sensitive to the Spirit of God working in their lives. They will lead…God will lead them by His Spirit to just the right person who will come to be a godly pastor and the kind of pastor that you good people deserve. Amen? God is not done with Brainerd Baptist Church.
But what I want to do is, I want to take this text and some others in Scripture and help you to see what kind of pastor you ought to be looking for. And so many times, we preach about how the people ought to be, but listen pastors, I am preaching to us. I am preaching to myself. But you get to listen in, amen? And you get to see what is required for a man to be a godly pastor.
Let’s go to God in prayer. Father, we ask that You give us a grace to really perceive and to understand what You require. Lord, we have got an idea about what a godly pastor looks like, but Lord, we want to see it in Your Word. Lord, our ideas might be skewed, our perceptions might to wrong. But You have a clear word for us, God, and I pray that we could not only hear it, but we could receive it and apply it and say, yes, that is the kind of guy we need to pastor our fellowship. Give us a grace to do that, God. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
As we examine this passage, there are several characteristics I want to point out about what it requires to be a godly pastor. Now you want, as well as I do, to find a pastor who is a godly man. Amen? So it begins with this: a godly pastor will have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Do you know that? It is one thing to try to lead people to have a relationship with Christ, but listen, you can’t lead people to have a relationship with Christ, a growing, dynamic relationship with the Lord Jesus unless you are having a growing, dynamic relationship with the Lord Jesus.
Robby said many times, the greatest thing I could ever do for you as a people would be to lead a godly life, to be right with God. And that is the greatest thing that anybody can do. Several things Peter says about himself that I think would be helpful. He identifies himself, notice, as a fellow elder. Look at Verse 1. Peter identifies himself. He exhorts the elders among them, among the churches, those who are scattered. And he says, “I who am a fellow elder.”
You know, it is amazing to me that Peter identifies himself. He humbles himself. He doesn’t brag about or boast about his apostleship. Everyone knew that he was tied together with the Lord Jesus Christ. He doesn’t have to do that. He simply humbles himself and he says, “I am a fellow elder.” He doesn’t brag about or boast about his apostleship or that he is some great spiritual leader. But what he does, he identifies with these men and he says, “First and foremost, no matter what I am in the churches, I am a fellow elder.”
Three words are used in this text for a pastor: elder. Peter was a pastor. He is saying shepherd and overseer. And many of the traditions and many of the denominations call their pastors either pastors or elders or bishops. And that is where they get the terms from is from this text. Peter says, “I am a fellow elder.”
I like what Adrian Rogers said. He said, “If Peter was the first Pope, he certainly didn’t know it.” You know, that is the Catholic tradition. They hailed Peter as the first Pope. Well, Peter didn’t know about that. Why? Why did they do it? Well, they do it because of Matthew 16. You recall the question the Lord Jesus asked Peter, He said, “Whom do men say that I am?” And Peter got it right, praise God. Finally, he got it right! He said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And the Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjonah, son of Jonah, flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father. Upon this rock.” I believe Jesus said, you are a stone. You are Peter. That is what his name means. “But upon this rock (He points to Himself), I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” I don’t believe Peter is the rock. I believe Peter is the small stone. But I believe the Lord Jesus points to Himself and says, “Upon this Rock, I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
First and foremost, Peter says, “I am a fellow elder.” You know that humility there ought to teach us something. It says later on not to lord it over God’s heritage or the people that have been entrusted to you, but serve as examples. And we are going to get to that in a moment. But this humility that Peter displays. That is why we at Brainerd have embraced a servant leadership model. Do you see it? We are not a bunch of bosses trying to dictate what everybody ought to do. We are servants of God who have submitted to God. And we want to do what God says do, amen? And that is the kind of pastor you want. You want the pastor who submitted himself to the authority of God and he moves at His discretion and he moves at His impulse. He is cultivating this growing relationship with Christ and because he has got a relationship that is dynamic, he is learning and growing. God can get his attention. He has learned to hear the very voice of God. And that is the guy you want. You don’t want a guy who can’t make a decision. You want guys who can make decisions, submitted to the Lordship of Christ and operating as a servant-leader. As Paul says, “What we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord with ourselves Your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
So he not only identifies himself as a fellow elder, but notice, he identifies himself as a witness to the sufferings of Christ. Do you see it? Peter doesn’t boast about his apostleship, but he does say, I was there when the Lord Jesus suffered and bled and died.
Now we know he got it wrong. We know he denied Christ, but he was gloriously restored, amen? But he said, I witnessed His suffering. That word “witness” in the language of the New Testament is the same word we get martyr from in English. Why would Peter say he is a martyr for Christ? Well, maybe he thought about the prediction Jesus made in John’s gospel that said, listen, John is going to live a long life, but you are going to die and you are going to suffer. What about this man? Jesus said, “Peter, don’t worry about this man. You follow Me.” And so he knew because the Lord Jesus predicted that he would die a martyr’s death. Or maybe perhaps he was referring to the fact that in order to fully surrender to Christ, he finally got it right. You have to die to self. Do you know that? If you want to fully surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ, you have a mind-set that says, not I but Christ. I am going to die daily. I am going to die to self. I am going to crown Jesus King. And that is the guy you want as a pastor here at Brainerd. You want the guy. It is not all about him, it is all about God. It is all about His Word. It is all about Jesus Christ. It is all about serving people. That is the guy you want. Amen?
He identified himself as a fellow elder. He identified himself as a witness to the sufferings of Christ. Turn over a chapter and look at I Peter Chapter 3 and Verse 18. Look at it. Peter uses Jesus Christ as the great example in suffering. These believers were going through intense persecution. They were going through adversity. They were going through suffering. And Peter uses the Lord Jesus as the great example of suffering. Can you imagine God, the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, clothing Himself in human flesh, walking down heaven’s stairway, becoming a man? What humility! The Scripture says, He stooped down low. And the to be shamefully treated. Born in a stable. Lived a life and He was so misunderstood. People misunderstanding your motives, guess what? They misunderstood the Lord Jesus’ motives as well. Some called Him a devil. And all He did, the Scripture says, was, He went about doing good. He healed the lame. He cast out demons. He raised the dead. And they still have something to say about Him. And so any time you feel like you are mistreated, you think about Christ because He suffered in a way that we could never suffer.
And look at what it says in I Peter 3:18. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, the righteous (some of your translations say for the unrighteous) that He might bring us to God, being put to death but made alive in the Spirit.” Amen? And so Christ suffered and He is our great example. And any time we are suffering, we are to look to Christ. In fact, there is a sense that if we are truly going to get to know Jesus in a deep, intimate way, we are going to suffer with Jesus. The fellowship, the Scripture says, of His suffering.
Philippians 3:10 says, “That I may know Him.” Paul is speaking here, “And the power of His resurrection.” We are excited about that. But also he says, “The fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to the image of His death.”
So Peter identifies himself as a fellow elder. He identifies himself as a martyr, as a witness to the sufferings of Christ. But then he identifies himself as a partaker of the glory that will be revealed. Do you see it at the end of Verse 1?
You see, Peter knew that even though he cowered down when Christ was being crucified, he preached to 3,000 souls after the Spirit began to control and empower him. The Spirit of God came in. That made all the difference in the world. Just think about all the things the Spirit of God brought back to his memory. He denied Christ. He was gloriously restored by the Lord Jesus before He ascended into heaven, the living, resurrected Christ he came in contact with. And so what he is talking about partakers of the glory that will be revealed or that he is a partaker of the glory that will be revealed, he is remembering I think, the transfiguration, there on a mountain. Jesus face shines like the noon day sun. Moses and Elijah are there as well. Peter said, this is a good thing. I am going to make some tents where we can hang out here. Jesus said, Listen, you don’t understand. I have a mission. I am headed toward Jerusalem. I have set My face, as the prophet of old said, as flint and I am heading toward Jerusalem. I have got something that I need to accomplish there. And Peter began to realize because the Spirit of God indwelt his life, all the things Jesus taught and said and did. And so he is a partaker of the glory that will be revealed.
Do you know, Peter says in II Peter that you and I are partakers of the divine nature. I want you to see it in the Scripture. Look at II Peter Chapter 1 and Verse 4. Turn over a page or two and you will see it.
He says, “By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises.” Aren’t you glad for the promises of God? In other words, what he is saying is, all that I am going to tell you now is based on the Word of God, “that through these (these great and precious promises that we have from God…look at it) you may be partakers of the divine nature.” Do you know what he is saying? He is telling all these believers that based on the Word of God, the very life of God indwells you when you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. When you, by an act of your will one day, as the Spirit of God called you, repented from sin and transferred your trust to the living, resurrected Christ, He came to indwell your life in His presence and power. Do you know that? You and I, according to the Word of God, this is our identity. We are partakers of the divine nature. And we ought to live like it, amen?
So Peter describes himself as a fellow elder, as a witness or a martyr of the sufferings of Christ, and as a partaker of the glory that will be revealed. So your pastor ought to have some of these character qualities. He ought to have a growing relationship with the Lord.
Now I want to remind you of a story found in the book of Acts. In Acts Chapter 3, it is an amazing story. It is a picture of ministry. God works in the life of Peter and John and through their lives. You remember, he healed a lame man at the gate called Beautiful near the Temple. Everybody was excited. People were leaping and praising God. I mean, they were having a party! There was only one group not excited. That was the religious leaders. What they did was, they arrested Peter and John and had them flogged and then they called them to give an account. Peter said boldly as he stood before the Sanhedrin and the religious leaders of the day. He said, listen, you be the judge. We can’t help but proclaim those things that we have seen and heard. And it says in Acts Chapter 4 and Verse 13, it says that the religious leaders recognized that Peter and John were uneducated and untrained men and they marveled. But then they recognized that they had been with Jesus. That is huge, folks, that is huge! All the things Peter said, a fellow elder. He said a martyr, a witness to the sufferings of Christ. He said a partaker or the glory that will be revealed. You and I are partakers of the divine nature. But the biggest thing he says, all this to say, he had been with Jesus. He had such a growing relationship with Christ, the Spirit of God came to live within him. The Lord Jesus began to work in him so that He could work through him. And as miserable as he was, as cowardly as he was when he denied Christ, he was different now. And that made all the difference because Jesus lived within him and gave him supernatural power to do all the things that God would lead him to do. God was working in his life, to work through his life, and that made all the difference.
Can people say that about your life? Can they? Well, you know, this guy is a great guy. You know, he is a businessman or perhaps he is a teacher or maybe he is a great church worker. But can they say, he has got a growing relationship with Christ? He has been with Jesus. It is obvious. The way he talks, the way he walks, the way he lives, the way he treats people. His compassion, his loving concern for others. That makes all the difference in the world.
Listen, you want to get a pastor that has been with Jesus. Amen? You want a pastor who will stand behind this desk and because he has been with Jesus, he has a word from Jesus. Amen? And with fear and trembling, as I am doing now, to preach the thing that Jesus…you know, it is one thing to try to pay lip service to people. It is quite another thing to preach what God says to preach and to boldly proclaim thus sayeth the Lord. And it doesn’t matter if it offends anybody. You don’t want to be offensive all the time. You want to love on people. But sometimes, folks, I want to tell you, God’s Word is offensive. And so first and foremost, you want a pastor that has a growing relationship with Christ.
The next thing you want is you want a pastor that has a loving concern for the people of God. Notice what Peter says in Verse 2, “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you.” That word “shepherd” is the idea of pastoring. He uses this image of the shepherd. And there are several things that he highlights here, but let me highlight one. We ought to have a love as pastors for God’s people. What we do for the Lord is so important. Amen? But I want to tell you something even more important, why we do what we do. Is what you do, Pastor is what you do, church leader, gospel worker, is it motivated by love? You see, that is the key. When it all boils down, Jesus said, there is a great commandment, love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. And then the second is like it. He said, love your neighbor as yourself. That ought to be our motivation. Jesus rebuked the church in Ephesus and said, “Nevertheless I have this against you because you have left your first love. Remember from where you have fallen. Repent and do the first works or else I will come quickly and remove your Lampstand.” This great church was in danger of losing its testimony. Why? Because they left their first love.
We, in the life of the church, we can’t leave first love, amen? We have got to stay connected to the Lord Jesus. If you are going to be a godly shepherd, you are going to shepherd with a loving concern for the people of God.
Three things I want to point out. A shepherd grows the sheep. Did you know that? More than anything else, the greatest thing a shepherd could do would stand behind this pulpit and say, thus sayeth the Lord, teaching and preaching and shepherding and equipping and mentoring and being that godly example. We ought to grow the sheep.
The second thing we ought to do is we ought to guard the sheep. You may not realize this, but pastors need to guard their people from false doctrine. Lots of false doctrine. Turn on Christian television and what they are saying doesn’t match what we are saying. Who are you going to believe? You are going to believe the one that is based on the Word of God. And the greatest thing a pastor can do is to teach his people doctrine, to preach and teach and admonish and to equip the people of God. Paul told that to Timothy in I Timothy…that was a Cajun slip right there…Timoty…Timothy. Paul told that to Timothy in II Corinthians 4 and 1 and 2. Look at it. Excuse me, II Timothy 4:1-2. Look at it. He said, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead at His coming, at His appearing and at His coming,” he says. “preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” Do you see it? That is the final charge that the Apostle Paul mentored to the young pastor, Timothy, tells him. He says, whatever you do, I charge you and you are going to stand before God, the One who judges the living and the dead at the appearing of Christ and His kingdom; preach the Word! Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Always be ready to preach the Word. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. Do you see it?
The greatest thing a pastor can do is to grow the sheep, but also to guard the sheep. We guard against false doctrine. We guard against false deeds. But then he says, guide the sheep. You see, it is easy to stand back and point the way. Well, I think we ought to be involved over here. Or maybe we ought to be involved over there. It is quite another thing to lock arms with your people and lead the way. Amen? We ought to guard against false deeds. We ought to guide the sheep, not by being arm chair quarterbacks, but we ought to guide the sheep because we are actively involved.
Listen, I tell young pastors all the time, you can’t expect your people to do anything that you are not willing to do. And in a church this size, the pastor can’t do everything, but he ought to be willing to do anything. Amen?
The last thing I want you to see in this text and this is very important, even though it is last. A pastor not only has a growing relationship with Christ and have a love and concern for the people of God, but his desire is to please Christ above all else. Do you see that? His desire is to please Christ above all else.
Look at what the Scripture says. “And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” There is a special crown reserved for a faithful pastor. And that ought to be our desire. We ought to desire to please Him above all else. Listen, if we are going to please Him above all else, we have got to have the right motives. Peter says in the verse before, we are to do it not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain, but eagerly not being lords over the flock but being examples to the flock. What you do is just as important as what you preach or what you say. Remember that. It is one thing to proclaim the Word. It is another thing to live the Word. And listen, your preaching has great power when you are living a godly life. Do you know that? And the motivation for living a godly life ought to be that you want to please God and Him alone.
Chris and I were at our first church. Chris is with me this morning, and we had some folks that visited from high school. We are the South LaFuge Baptist Church in Galliana. And some of our friends from high school went down the bayou, further down. You think you are at the end of the world in Galliana, but they went even further down to Grand Island. Some of you know maybe where that is at. And so on the way back, they stopped for services. They had spent the weekend there. They stopped for services on the way back. And the church was packed. Our church, it was obvious it was vibrant and active and growing and God was doing a work there. And they waited till the end and my habit was to stand in the back and to shake people’s hands as they left. And our friends came and talked to Chris and I and the young lady who was a friend from high school, from the youth group, said, Tim, how in the world do you please all these people? I thought about it for a moment and I said, Listen, Meyon, a French name. I said there is no way that I could please all these people. Thank God I have only got one to please and that is Christ.
That ought to be our mind-set, amen? We can’t please everybody, but by God’s grace, we can surrender and submit and live in such a way where we please God who is the author and finisher of our faith.
What do you do with all this? Well, I want to give you three challenges. The first is this: I want you to pray. You have an opport8unity until midnight tonight to help to select the Pastor Selection Team. Go online. There are ballots in the reception area. If God has showed you who needs to be on that team, you have an opportunity to submit names. Do it online. Do it with the ballot. However, you want to do it, but you begin to pray for that team that they would be insightful and they would take some of the principles that they come up with and maybe even some of the principles they have heard here to select a godly man. And once they find him, you pray for he and his family. The greatest way you can show love for a pastor, I know this because I have been a pastor, is to pray for the pastor and his family.
So the first challenge is this: Pray. The second would be this: Partner with them. That is how you can show them that you love and support them in a very tangible way. Partner with them. If they launch an initiative and it lines up with the Word of God, you be first to partner with them. You be first to volunteer. You say, pastor, we are with you, the same that you did during these days. Do it that way because that is so huge in the life of a pastor, to know that they people are behind him. If he is preaching the Word of God and he is doing well, you follow him as he follows Christ. Partner with him.
But then the last thing I would say, would be Provide for him. You are going to want to do the best you can to meet his needs and his family’s needs. Pray for them. Partner with them. Provide for them. And listen, they will know whoever it is will know that you love them.