The Gospel Graced Pastor – Book Review By David P. Craig
In this much-needed corrective to the purpose driven or pragmatic oriented pastoral model of our day, Wilson gets back to the foundation of pastoral ministry – the centrality of the Gospel in all of life, including pastoral ministry. Wilson critiques modern pragmatism, the modern obsession that pastors have with success, and makes a great case for a thoroughly biblical model of pastoring based on Peter’s first letter to the churches scattered throughout Asia, and the Sola’s of the Reformation.
Jared isn’t so much concerned with success or pragmatism as much as he is with being saturated in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the first half of the back the author addresses the “heart” of the Pastor from 1 Peter 5:1-11. Wilson writes six chapters explaining the context of pastoral ministry, the struggles and temptations of ministry, and how the gospel changes the pastor’s heart and mind and should be his focus for life and ministry.
After addressing the heart of the pastor in part 1 of the book Wilson addresses what he calls the Pastor’s glory. Whereas in part 1 he addresses the soul and character of the pastor; in part two he is concerned with the theological foundations that are needed for pastoral ministry: namely, the power, authority, and sufficiency of the Scriptures in preaching; being saturated by a biblical theology and intimacy with grace; an unshakable faith; being unwavering in Christ centeredness; and being totally committed to the glory of God.
Here is a sampling of the book with some of my favorite quotes from Wilson:
“I’ve concluded that God is as much, if not more, interested in doing a great work in us as he is in doing a great work through us” (Mike Ayers, in the Foreward).
“But there is something both lay elders and career elders have in common…a profound sense of insecurity for which the only antidote is the gospel.”
“In preaching (the pastor), he is broken open upon the rock of Christ that the living water of Christ might flow out freely and flood the valleys of his people.”
“The primary problem in pastoral ministry, brother pastor, is not them. It’s you.”
“We should all want our churches to be moving forward, growing and changing, conforming more with the image of Christ. But we shouldn’t let that image get in the way of loving our church where it is.”
“Pastor, do not let your vision for the church you want get in the way of God’s vision for the church you actually have!”
‘My first thoughts on Monday mornings are to my fatigue and all I must do, but I must push them into thoughts of Christ, of all he is and all he has done. There lies the vision that compels my will.”
“The minute I begin seeing God’s people as problems to be solved (or avoided) is the minute I’ve denied the heart of Christ.”
“The struggle to shepherd willingly happens every time ministry becomes difficult. So we have to see people as Jesus sees them.”
“I say to my leadership, if you give me credit for the increase, you will give me blame for the decrease, so how about we just credit God?”
“A leader who doesn’t trust other gifted and authorized leaders doesn’t trust God.”
“It will be a frustrating–and ultimately failing–endeavor, attempting to maintain forward missional momentum if you are known more for your denials than your affirmations.”
“So whatever you want to see, that you must be.”
“Pastors are not appointed to a church primarily to lead in the instruction of skills and the dissemination of information; they are appointed to a church primarily to lead in Christ-following.”
“I remind myself and my church that a message of grace may attract people, but a culture of grace will keep them.”
“Really what (the church) wants–and our heart wants is Jesus; they just expect to find him in you. And find him in you they will, if you will keep pointing them to the real Jesus and away from yourself.”
“Any worship directed to anyone or anything other than God is essentially self-worship.”
“God uses sinners so that he will get the glory and so that he will get the glory in the vivid, repeating imagery of turning ashes to beauty.”
“When the preferences of the church members are greater than their passion for the gospel, the church is dying” (Thom Rainer).
“When God calls a man to pastoral ministry, he calls him to deal exclusively in the glory of God. God’s glory is our trust, our means, our end.”
“God has promised himself to you in Christ, and he will secure you to himself in Christ. To be hidden with Christ in God is to be as secure as Christ is.”
‘Preaching is proclamation that exults in the exposing of God’s glory.”
“With our sermons we are to deliver what we’ve received, not what we’ve created.”
“in the preaching ministry, we take ourselves lightly and the Word of God heavily.”
“What expository preaching aims to do is explicate what the text means, expound on how it applies to the lives of the hearers, and explain its connection to the gospel story line of the entire Bible.”
“The Bible speaks to all manner of good things useful to men, but the church is starving (starving!) for the glory of God.”
“When we ‘expose’ what God’s Word means, how it applies to our lives, and what it reveals about his saving purposes in Christ, we are showing his glory.”
“The pastoral imperative, then, is to get the gospel indicative into every nook and cranny of church life as we can. We want to be seeding grace in every space.”
“Jesus Christ alone is the hope, treasure, joy, and purpose of pastoral ministry.”
“Let everything be a means to this end: the treasuring of Christ and the enjoying of his glory.”
“It is Christ alone that should be the focus of our message and ministry. Trust in all else will fail, because all else fails. Trust in Christ will prevail, because Christ has prevailed.”
Wilson’s book should be a welcome addition to any leader in the church’s library. It is a book that I will definitely read more than once. I need to be reminded of the essentials and foundations for ministry: Christ, the Gospel, the Scriptures, all for the glory of God, and the good of the Church. We are great sinners, but we have a greater Savior – and Wilson’s book gives the right amount of conviction and encouragement in order for pastors and leaders to be good stewards of what has been entrusted to us as Christ’s servants in His Church!
*I was given a copy of this book for review by the publisher and was not required to write a favorable review.