C. S. Lewis once observed, “there are theologians in the bottom of hell who were more interested in their own thoughts about God than in God himself.” It was for this reason, Lewis counseled, that a “dogmatician” should also preach regularly. Lewis’ pithy observation underscores an immensely important point in the life of any preacher: One’s walk with the Lord Jesus must not only be genuine, it must be vibrant. This is especially true for men who have consecrated themselves to the task of leading the Lord’s people as an under shepherd – pastor. Preparing for the ministry begins by applying God’s Word to oneself (1 Tim 4:16).
Moreover, men who serve as pastors in the church should be gifted to that end, and above all, they must have a mind for truth and a heart for God. In other words, above all other qualifications, a man must be born again and have received God’s call and gifts to serve as pastor (Jn 3:3; Eph 4:11).
In addition to all expected godly characteristics, a pastor must possess thick skin, as potential “slights” abound. Simply, a pastor requires the wisdom of Solomon, the prudence of Jethro, the patience of Job, and the hide of a rhinoceros. Moreover, these qualities must be undergirded by the humility and love of Christ. Possessing these and having a mind for truth and love for God and mankind, a pastor must be truly called and know it, God gifted, and motivated to serve as Christ’s undershepherd. That is quite a lot! What this therefore brings to mind is a pastor is a man who understands God’s grace and is in ready need of it.
A pastor is also to be a theologian, as theology is the study of God as well as the application of His Word to all areas of life. This is essentially the purpose for this pastor’s handbook, to provide a simple resource to encapsulate the most important truths of our common salvation, to equip pastors for the work of ministering the Word. For assuredly, what the Church most desperately needs to recover is sound biblical teaching and preaching that is deliberately Trinitarian, highly Christocentric, and urgently evangelistic. It is my prayer that this book represents a prescription for the Church’s present need.