When I graduated from seminary 25 years ago, I had no business pastoring a church. Yet that’s what I did.
I had learned theology, and I had developed the beginnings of a pastoral theology. What I lacked, predictably, were role models. It was partly my fault: wisdom would dictate that a 24-year-old has no business becoming solo pastor of a church. But it’s not just that. There just weren’t that many examples of robust, gospel-centered ministry around.
I did okay, some times better than others. Eventually, though, I drifted. I began to drink from the waters of megachurch conferences and leadership books. I eventually began to read books that raised theological questions in my mind, but didn’t provide many answers. I didn’t get completely lost, but I had certainly drifted from my moorings.
And then I heard Tim Keller.
Now, it’s not really about Tim Keller. It could have been any number of people. For the first time in a long time, I found someone who was theologically sound, pastorally effective, and rooted in the gospel.
Later on I met others. Paul Martin, a pastor here in Toronto, models encouragement and a commitment to the basics. He’s one of the first solid church planters I met. Ray Ortlund, Jr. models scholarship as a pastor, a deep desire for revival, a joyful anticipation of Sundays, and a “I can’t believe I get to pastor these people” attitude. Scotty Smith models gospel-motivated authenticity and joy. And there are so many more.
My point isn’t that these people are great (although they are). It’s that I needed models. And so do you. It’s also that you may be a model yourself.
We don’t just need theology. We need to see theology lived out. We need to see, hear, and feel robust, effective, gospel-centered ministry if we’re going to have a chance of leading that kind of ministry ourselves.
We need your example. Who’s watching you? Please show them the way.