Kevin DeYoung on Heroes in Pastoral Ministry

In this video, Kevin DeYoung offers two kinds of ministry heroes. First up is the famous pastor, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, whose influential preaching shaped generations of pastors. Second, DeYoung points to the faithful elders who serve in his church, giving up-close examples of ministry and pastoral care. To read more about ministry heroes from other pastors, pick up a copy of TGC’s 12 Faithful Men: Portraits of Courageous Endurance in Pastoral Ministry, edited by Collin Hansen and Jeff Robinson.

We all know that Jesus is ultimately the only hero at least, the only undivided perfect hero. But I think there are many good reasons why we need to have imperfect heroes in our own lives. People who we emulate and follow just as Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). And I think of lots of people, living and dead, who have been some of my formative influences and heroes.

First, I encountered Martyn Lloyd-Jones when I was a college student. I began by reading his sermons and then later found out so many of them are online. I would listen to his sermons and then read that really thick, two-volume biography from Iain Murray on the doctor. I didn’t know anything about Welsh Calvinism or ministry in the United Kingdom at the time, but the thing that gripped me was his passion for preaching. And I devoured every word of Preaching and Preachers, and I loved every chapter in that biography and the sermons that I was reading and Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. It helped that when I met my wife, she was reading Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. I thought, “This is a good sign, if she’s reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones.”

Above all those things, I was gripped by his attention to the Word, his passion and his confidence in preaching. It helped me to get as Lloyd-Jones would say, “something of the romance of preaching.” And I was so struck in reading about him, reading the things that he wrote, and listening to his sermons that it began to shape what I wanted to do. I wanted to preach. I’ll never preach like he did and have the sense of God like he did, but to hear, see, and feel that example in Martyn Lloyd-Jones was profoundly influential for me.

When I think about people who are heroes in my own life, I can mention so many people. I love my mom and dad who taught me so many things. But as I think of my heroes in ministry, I most quickly think of the elders that I serve with at my church. I think of Tim and Jeff, and Jerry, and Bruce, and Dan, and Peter, and Tim, and Byron, and Mark. There’s a dozen or so of them, and I didn’t mention all of them, but I could. I have pictures of all of them in my mind right now. These men work at the assembly line at a GM plant, doing shoe repair, or in state government before they come to an elders’ meeting. They’re doing their life, trying to raise their family, care for their kids, their grandkids, and I get to study the Bible all day. After a long day’s work, these men come and attend long meetings. And if I have to, I can rearrange something. I can come into work late. Some of them have to get up at 4:00am or 5:00am. They love the people of God, and they’ve loved me as their pastor, and I’m so thankful for these men and men like them. It’s a privilege to labor with them in ministry. These elders, and the many other nameless elders who serve in a similar fashion in healthy churches around the world, are some of my heroes in ministry and people of whom the world is not worthy. As a pastor, I’m privileged to minister with them and labor with them.