Friday, November 19, 2010

Fearing the Face of Men

I recently listented to a lecture by Albert Martin from a series he delivered on the pastoral ministry that was a source of encouragement in my own ministry. It was Lecture #9 titled "Deliverance from the Fear of Man." As social creatures it is a part of the essence of our created being to desire the acceptance of our fellow man. For the pastor, however, this desire for acceptance must never cause him to change the essence of his preaching. Martin spoke of the difference between a visiting pastor who speaks one time to a congregation of which he knows little and a pastor speaking to his own congregation. The pastor preaching to an unknown congregation preaches freely with little knowledge of how his words may be speaking to the hearts of the people. For the pastor speaking to his own congregation, however, he gets to know his them well. He becomes familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of his flock and sometimes their sins. Often he preaches without knowing how the Spirit is applying it to the hearts of individuals but sometimes he knows his words are making particular application to an individual. He must never fear to exegete and apply a passage of Scripture because he knows it may be striking at the heart of a particular person or group within his congregation. In my experience, people respond in one of two ways. Some are convicted and repent. Some, on the other hand, become angry at the pastor and continue to justify their actions. A pastor must not fear their rejection. Al Martin's message served as a reminder that must continually ring in the ears of every pastor. While the pulpit must never be used as a retaliatory tool or as a substitute for personal counseling, a faithful pastor must never withhold the truth out of a fear of rejection by men. True love for God's people demands preaching faithfully before them in season and out of season; to continue to "reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:2).