The Holiness of Pastors and Patriarchs


As I write this article I am sitting comfortably in a hotel lobby in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This morning, as I walked to the hotel in sub-zero temperatures, while massive, mid-western snowflakes kept falling on my head, during the coldest spell in Minneapolis in the past several years, I kept reminding myself that I am a Floridian. Although I came from Florida to Minneapolis during this severely harsh time of year for several reasons, it seems the Lord, in His wisdom, had another reason altogether.

I came in order to attend John Piper’s conference for pastors at which Dr. Sproul is one of the key-note speakers. I came to hear great preaching; I came to enjoy fellowship with fellow pastors from around the world; I came with the prayer that I would be encouraged in the ministry in which Lord has placed me, and I came with the hope of encouraging other pastors in some small way. And while the Lord has wonderfully fulfilled each of these desires, I realize that He brought me here not merely to encourage me but to challenge me. The topic of the conference is the holiness of God, and there has been a constant theme running throughout the entire conference, namely, God’s holiness and holiness in the life of the pastor. From the time I arrived, the Lord has taught me one lesson after another, demonstrating over and over again His concern for personal and pervasive holiness in the lives of those whom He has called to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Charles Spurgeon, in his classic work Lectures to My Students, writes to young ministers in training: “We require to have for God’s ministers the pick of all the Christian host; such men indeed, that if the nation wanted kings they could not do better than elevate them to the throne. Our weakest-minded, most timid, most carnal, and most ill-balanced men are not suitable candidates for the pulpit.” Oh, that God’s servants would be the greatest of kings, the most holy of men, and the most humble of leaders. The patriarch Joseph was such a man. He was an uncompromising man of integrity. He was a man sold into slavery by men but brought into leadership by God. He was a man thrown into a pit by men but elevated by God to stand beside a throne. He was a holy man who ran from temptation and through whom God worked His sovereign good to keep many people alive (Gen. 50:20). 

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.