Moral Piety Of Pastors -Leading A Good Personal Life – Learning From Books, Newspapers, TV.etc
Rev. Professor W. Kennedy of the United States writes: 'The personal life of the pastor is of prime importance, for people listen to his sermons on Sundays and watch to see how they are fulfilled through the week'.
He argues that 'the pastor must be a man of piety -a pious holy man who radiates the Lord Jesus Christ. The unbeliever expects near perfection of a minister at all times.' The Greek correlate of the word 'piety' is 'eusebeia' which means two things: reverence of God, and due respect to men. In other words, piety in the personal life of a pastor consists of total uprightness and peaceful, patient behaviour.
For instance, it is completely unethical and ungodly for a pastor to quarrel with a fellow pastor or with a church member on some sensitive issues upon which they disagree. Doing so makes the pastor lose his respect immediately.
Indeed, St. Paul's warning that a pastor must be 'patient, not a brawler' (1Timothy3:3) or with a church member on some sensitive issues upon which they disagree. Doing so makes the pastor lose his respect immediately.
Indeed, St. Paul's warning that a pastor must be 'patient, not a brawler' (1 Timothy 3:3) is definitely an instruction based upon an a posteriori analysis of what was obtained during his time. In the early history of the Christian church, pastoral brawls and fights were not uncommon, as they even occur during our time, occasionally though they might be.
Once upon a time in my elementary school days at Breman Asikumah, two very pious Mass servers of the Catholic Church unexpectedly stopped attending church services. The reason? They explained to our consternation that the priest had angrily shouted on them and slapped their ears in the course of the morning's Mass (Church Service) all on some mistakes they had made in presenting to him the altar napkin. That happened to each one of them at different times within two weeks. The priest could not exercise restraint on his pugilistic instinct!
At Mankessim in early 1990, a penteco-charismatic pastor thrice beat up his wife mercilessly, each time after a noisy quarrel in the house. Consequently, about a fifth of the church members withdrew from the church. A very disgraceful act! The pastor himself was later dismissed by the top hierarchy of the church: he had lost all the respect he had!
Another thing in the personal life of a pastor is his moral obligation to daily absorb knowledge that will conduce to his spiritual growth as well as provide him with rich realistic perspectives for current events which he can orchestrate for preaching.
The sources of knowledge should be books, radio, television, newspapers and magazines. He must in any case be highly selective as to the choice of his reading materials, or listening or viewing programmes, as these may influence his moral behaviour or life-style for preaching and teaching the Word.
Actually the best reading materials are biography of some saints, spiritually inspiring books and scriptures. With newspapers, news items, especially written articles, and letters to the editors often prove to be very enriching.
In any case, greater priority must always be given to media information, articles or discussions which have spiritual dimensions. It is unfortunate, however, that lots of pastors seem not to take interest in reading; they would not spare an hour or two a day to read different spiritual material, let alone write or make notes of some interesting facts which can be used in preaching. Hence their preaching is almost dull and dead: out of tune with those everyday occurrences which can move the congregation to appreciate the Gospel.
Those who imbibe knowledge 'precept upon precept…. line upon line…. here a little and there a little' (Isaiah 28:9-10) are the best preachers, and best spiritual teachers and best pastors who are on the way to spiritual ascendancy.
That aside, it is morally obligatory for a pastor to spend much time in prayer everyday -praying for his own needs, and for his church members or for other outside the church. In this respect, it is always better for the pastor to intercede for people on individual or case-by-case basis. More importantly, he must endeavour to list down the pray-for-me church members' SPECIAL requests, and pray over them to the Lord.
Intercession is done by vocal prayers, whilst the pastor's personal request prayers could sometimes be done through mental prayers. On intercession, Prophet Samuel in the Bible comments: 'God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for the flock; but I will teach you the good and the right way' (1 Samuel 12:23). And St. Paul re-echoes it in Colossians 1:9 'For this cause,' we also…. do not cease to pray for you.'
A famous reverend minister in England, Robert Murray McCheyne who became a powerful charismatic, sums it all up to pastors: 'Study universal holiness of life. Your whole usefulness depends upon this, for your sermons last but an hour or two; your life preaches all the week….. If Satan can only make you a covetous minister, a lover of praise, of pleasure, of good eating, he has ruined your ministry. Give yourself to prayer, and get your texts, your thoughts, your words from God.'
It is in this connection that Rev. Richard Cecil cautions with an aphoristic saying: 'The leading defect in Christian ministers is want of a devotional habit.' Is it far from the truth? Let us consider it seriously.
By Apostle Kwamena Ahinful
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