At the recent Desiring God conference, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson took 20 minutes to explain three lessons he has learned in over four decades of pastoral ministry, having to do with (1) ourselves and our people, (2) ourselves and our preaching ministry, and (3) ourselves and our walk with God.

First, he emphasizes the absolute centrality of loving the people God gives us to serve. Second, he insists that we must listen to our own preaching as we preach it; God wants us to be under the ministry of the word with which we are engage. Finally, we must remember the privilege of living the whole of our lives in the presence of our triune Lord.

And here is the little book of which Ferguson says, “Every minister should read it once a year—at least!”

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3 thoughts on “Sinclair Ferguson: 3 Lessons from 42 Years in Pastoral Ministry in 20 Minutes”

  1. Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

    Dr. Sinclair Ferguson asked, ‘What lies at the center of our ministry?’

    Basically, I agree with what he said her. Indeed, it is important to love people (in and outside the church). Nonetheless, the most important thing to do for every minister/servant of God is as Jesus reasserted,

    “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.
    And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” ((Mt 22:37-39 ESV)

    If we move the commandment which is to be found in the second place to the first place, we will surely fail. Although both commandments count as equal, we many never forget that obeying the great commandment alone empowers us to love our neighbors with that love we received from God before (Rom 5:5 ESV). If we even drop the first commandment and try to love others (or ourselves) on our own, we will be frustrated because of not being able to love anyone including ourselves.

    Our relationship with God, sustained through continual prayer (1 Thes 5:17 ESV) is of the utmost importance if we want to do God’s will all the time, that is, if we want to serve and love others as Christ did. I guess that statement equals ‘living the whole of our lives in the presence of our triune Lord’, right? However, it is not an automatism to live in His presence; our Lord wants to be sought.

    “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” (Prv 8:17 ESV)

    “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer 29:12-13 ESV)

    As for ‘we must listen to our own preaching as we preach it’, one might also say that our preaching reveals the touchstone God applies to our lives as well, for it is written,

    “Judge not, that you be not judged.
    For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
    Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
    Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?
    You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Mt 7:1-5 ESV)

    If you’re interested in how true preaching could look like, you might check out the following entry plus comments.

    http://dogmadoxa.blogspot.de/2013/10/true-preaching.html

    Thank you, Justin.

    Warm regards,
    Susanne

    1. Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

      Correction:

      “Basically, I agree with what he said here.”

      1. Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

        Correction follow-up (Yep, I know I’m a perfectionist – wink wink ):

        “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt 22:37-39 ESV)

        “Our relationship with God, sustained through continual prayer (1 Thes 5:17 ESV), is of the utmost importance if we want to do God’s will all the time, that is, if we want to serve and love others as Christ did.”

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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