The Heart of a Disciple-Making Pastor

Bobby Jamieson, author of the 9Marks Healthy Church Study Guide series, had an article featured in the most recent 9Marks Journal. We thought it was a great exhortation to true discipleship. Jamieson writes:

What do you think is the essential quality of a disciple-making pastor? Here’s my best shot: rejoicing in others’ ministry.


In his book The Art of Pastoring, David Hansen paints a striking picture of this when he describes the parallel between a great “spiritual director” and a great fly fishing guide:

The very best quality of the very best fishing guides is the very best quality of the very best spiritual directors. The very best fishing guides, the top of the heap of that profession, all love to watch clients catch fish as much as they like catching fish themselves. It gets to the point of silliness sometimes the way a truly great fishing guide starts to laugh, even giggle like a grade-school girl, when a client starts catching fish.

Hansen continues:

Likewise, the characteristic that sets the great spiritual directors apart is childlike joy. Out of pure love they give you their undivided attention, and when you catch your fish, when your net is full, there’s always that smile, that glint in their eye that tells you they’ve just spent the best hour of their day with you.

In keeping with his somewhat mystical, contemplative spirituality, Hansen sees the role of a spiritual director as discerning God’s work in someone’s life and drawing attention to it. I think that’s certainly an element of pastoral discipling, but Scripture goes further. Ephesians 4:11-13 says that Christ gave “…the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.”

In other words, a pastor’s job is to equip the church members to do ministry, to build each other up in maturity. To tweak Hansen’s image, a pastor’s job isn’t merely to fish for his people—though that’s certainly part of it—but to teach them to fish. And I’d suggest that a fitting litmus test for a pastor is how much joy he takes in others’ works of ministry, and how well he builds his ministry around that joy.

Pastors who delight in others’ ministry will soon find that their ministry consists more in multiplication than addition. If you give ministry away, encourage others’ efforts, and constantly think a “generation” or two further out, you will, by God’s grace, raise up disciples who make other disciples. And that’s just the beginning.

Be sure to take full advantage of the wisdom in this article by reading it in its entirety here.

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