Kevin DeYoung | 5 Questions: On a Pastor’s Piety
1. Do you see the need in our day for a renewed emphasis upon the pastor’s personal piety and godliness? Is legalism or libertinism the main problem among ministers today?
We’ve become so scared of inauthenticity that we barely insist on godliness anymore. Of course, pastors aren’t perfect. We don’t want to pretend to be what we’re not. And yet, we must strive to become what we are in Christ. Whether legalism or libertinism is the main problem will depend on our own context. Certainly both are anti-gospel problems which must be guarded and preached against.
2. Does the minister’s spiritual growth and piety play a significant role in the congregation’s spiritual growth and piety? How about the leadership?
That’s a great question. It makes me examine my own heart and my own spiritual progress. Surely the answer is yes. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the congregation can never grow up taller than its leaders, but in most cases a church is going to reflect the theology, the character, and the piety of its pastor.
3. How do you cultivate and maintain personal holiness as a busy pastor?
Normal things like the word and prayer. I also think I have good people around me (like my elders, like my staff, like my wife) who encourage me in the best ways and keep me humble too. I try to establish good accountability structures too (e.g., letting my wife see any text, letting a team of elders overlook my finances, letting my friends and fellow pastors ask me tough questions).
4. What are some clear and present dangers to a pastor’s sanctification and walk with God?
Besides the usual temptations involving sex and money, I think pastors are prone to self-pity, people pleasing, and pride. We can also get into unhealthy habits when it comes to eating, exercise, and our own personal devotions.
5. In regard to personal holiness, what advice would you give to young ordinands training for the gospel ministry?
Sound theology is not enough. Being smart is not enough. Being bold in preaching is not enough. Your people need you to be holy. The pursuit of Christlikeness is never wasted in the care of God’s people.