A friend, commenting on my post below, asked, “When will clergy EVER be satisfied?” That’s a good question, and provides a good opportunity to say some things that need to be said.
In the first place, there always have been “clergy” who’ve been satisfied — satisfied with the “worldly kind of Christianity” that concerned J. C. Ryle. The majority of “clergy” today are obviously satisfied with it. It can’t be too cheap or worldly to satisfy them. What dissatisfies them is any objection or resistance to the “worldly kind of Christianity” they espouse and the downgrading and apostasy that is part and parcel of it. What they are dissatisfied with is any expression of, or contending for New Testament Christianity (Jude 3).
Secondly and more to the point of the above question, it needs to be understood that the real issue and question concerning anything isn’t whether or not the “clergy will ever be satisfied.” The real issue and question is, and should be, whether or not God is satisfied with the spiritual state of a believer or a church; the criteria for which is revealed in His Word. A really God-called and God-conscious clergy (Gospel Ministry) is sensitive to and motivated by this more than anything else.
God-called and God-conscious pastors are satisfied with individuals and churches only to the degree that conformity to biblical principles and standards are being striven for and measurable success is being achieved. A truly God called, God conscious pastor will never be satisfied with second-rate, settle-for, superficial and saccharin-type Christianity where individuals or any church he pastors is concerned. He strives for perfection in his own life and in the lives of those for whom he has been given pastoral responsibility (Heb. 13:17), the goal being God’s satisfaction, not his own. His own gratification and satisfaction is a by-product of, secondary and incidental to, God’s.
Churches that have pastors like this, and don’t know it, misunderstand their pastors and put them under a heavy burden and themselves at a great disadvantage. It would do pastors (and others) well to carefully read and reread the entire New Testament with an eye out for those verses that explain what it is that gratifies and satisfies God where Christianity is concerned. The Sermon on the Mount constitutes a good example as do the following verses:
To the church at Rome Paul wrote: And: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren Rom. 8:29).” And, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom. 12:1, 2).”
In his letter to the churches of Galatia Paul revealed that he travailed to the end, and wouldn’t be satisfied “until, Christ be formed in you (4:19).” The reality of the condition and the healthy progress of a pregnant woman is manifested by change that becomes noticeable. Just so, Paul looked for change outwardly in believers that indicated the growing presence of Christ within them. Likewise, he was concerned for the Christ-mindedness of those in the church at Philippi: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:5).”
Paul wrote to believers in Colosse about his concern for their perfection: “We preach,” he said, “warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily (1:28, 29). He made it clear to the church of the Thessalonians that any satisfaction he might ever experience relative to his ministry to the saints would be because of his belief in the Lord’s satisfaction therewith: “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy (1 Thess. 2:19).”
Peter revealed his heart as a minister of the Gospel in 2 Pet. 1:10-14 where he wrote: “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.”
God-called and God-conscious pastors have always understood and still understand that the spiritual standards for discipleship are high (Luke 9:62; 14:25-35), that the goal of Christianity for believers individually and for churches in general, is perfection (Matt. 5:48) in and including godliness and “true holiness” (Matt. 5:48; Eph. 4:23, 24; 1 Pet. 1:15-17). This is what they aim for in their ministries.
God-called and God-conscious pastors understand that the ministry is not about their pleasure, their satisfaction, or their will being done, but about God’s satisfaction in His will being done (Matt. 6:10). When Paul wrote, in Gal. 6:10, “ if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ,” he understood that the “men” he referred to included himself.
When will God-called, God-conscious pastors and preachers “EVER be satisfied?” They’ll be satisfied when, to the degree, that they see believers being the salt of the earth and the light of the world; letting their light so shine that the lost cannot help but see their good works, be drawn to the Light of the world, and wind up glorifying our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:13-16).