The Enduring Impact of a Pastor’s Personal Spiritual Growth

This update is related to the Crossway Global Ministry Fund campaign.

The Gift of Theological Resources to the Under Resourced

Pastors—they are beloved, faithful ministers of the truth. They are leaders, guides, and shepherds of God’s people. They bring the word every Sunday morning after preparation during the week while caring for church members and supporting and leading their families at home.

Needless to say, there is a lot asked and expected of the pastors God has placed in leadership over our churches. Thankfully, here in the United States, there are many resources available that support the ministry of these leaders. Of course, there are exceptions, but at least they, and we, have ready access to content addressing nearly every topic imaginable.

However, in Myanmar, with a Burmese-speaking population that is nearly 88% Buddhist, pastors and church leaders cannot easily access theological resources to support them and help them grow in their ministry.1 Pastor Zaw2, who ministers to several church congregations throughout the country, has experienced this lack of resources with his own ministry, Myanmar Evangelical Press.

Through the Global Ministry Fund, Crossway has partnered with Myanmar Evangelical Press to help address this need and provide Pastor Zaw and others with resources to support their ministry and personal spiritual growth. “Because of this partnership,” Pastor Zaw explains, “I can have access to [good, theologically sound] books. Otherwise, there’s no way that I would be able to have materials like this. I think I will be correct to say that, generally speaking, most of us pastors do not really have a good education, except on the high school level.”

Crossway is helping to address these needs by providing grants to Myanmar Evangelical Press to translate and publish Crossway books into Burmese. One of these translated books, Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church by Paul David Tripp, has been especially impactful for Pastor Zaw.

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A Desperately Needed Guide for Pastoral Ministry

It’s a Thursday evening. Pastor Zaw and his family are in their home, sharing time as a family before putting the children to bed, when someone knocks at the door. Looking at his wife, Pastor Zaw gets up to answer. Before he opens the door, he knows what he will find. This has happened many times before, and this time will almost certainly not be the last.

He swings the door open wide, and there stands a beloved sister in Christ. With tears streaming down her cheeks, he lets her inside without asking for a word of explanation. He helps her inside with the few meager belongings she brought with her and sits her down at the kitchen table to receive a warm bowl of soup. She offers a weary smile of gratitude for the soup and in greeting to another woman sitting next to her, who had just come to the door a couple of nights before with the same need.3

Pastor Zaw and his wife regularly care for those in his congregation and broader ministry network who have been cast out of their homes by Buddhist family members. They have made a commitment in faith to these brothers and sisters to provide a home for as long as is needed. Occasionally they do even more, because “sometimes we even have to help them find a new job and occasionally even be relocated away from their family so that they can continue to come to the church and be nurtured in the faith.”

This is one example of the many pressures facing Pastor Zaw and his fellow ministry leaders throughout Myanmar. They are trying their best to make do with the limited training they have received to shepherd their flocks through various trials that come with living as a Christian in Myanmar.

This is why Myanmar Evangelical Press thought it pertinent to partner with Crossway in translating Lead into Burmese. Pastor Zaw is one such pastor who has now read and been impacted by the book. When we talked with him recently, his excitement to share about the impact of the book was tangible, even through a screen and translator. Through his reading of this book, he shared that his view and mindset toward the role of a pastor has changed.

In the context of the Buddhist culture here, leaders even in the church are viewed as holding a very high position. And therefore leaders never admit their weaknesses or their faults. The moment you do that, you are committing leadership suicide. Nobody wants to admit that! Even if you do something wrong, you ought to act like nothing’s wrong. This creeps in even among Christian circles, and that can be very unhealthy. But one of the things I’ve learned from this book is to understand that we are vulnerable to all these weaknesses and that there’s nothing wrong about admitting our weaknesses to our congregations.

Servant-mindedness, as we all know, is not a natural tendency. There is an inherently good sense of responsibility that comes with a position of authority, but that can easily turn into a false sense of pride and strength. But Zaw has come to learn this from reading what Tripp says about it: “There simply is no such thing as a call to ministry leadership that isn’t also a call to a life of servanthood, and there is no such thing as a call to servanthood that isn’t also a call to suffer.”4

Pastor Zaw humbly admits that this false sense of strength is a dangerous pitfall, especially after years in ministry that caused him to be lulled into a place of complacency and false understanding that he could do ministry on his own strength. Though he and his fellow pastors work to keep one another accountable, resources like Lead haven’t been made available in the past that allow for regular self-examination of ways they may be straying from the truth.

Pastor Zaw's mindset has now shifted toward a posture of gratitude and awe at the Lord’s grace in his life and ministry.

This book has called out the truth for me, that I am in ministry solely by the grace of God. My entire job is to faithfully proclaim the love and gospel of Christ to people regardless of their situation. . . . The book has helped me to check my own spiritual life and see how I should approach the pastoral ministry from a spiritual perspective, not just from my own knowledge.

As he grows in his own walk with the Lord, those in his congregation and sphere of influence in ministry will also grow. This is the unique station of a pastor. Though he is responsible for the care of those in his flock, he now understands that he must also care for his own spiritual needs. “When I’m so focused on the fruit of my labors for the good of the church, I become blinded. This has affected my own spiritual life, and when it affects my spiritual life, it also affects the spiritual lives of others. I now see the need to focus on the spiritual health of myself and then the people.”

By God’s grace, Pastor Zaw is among many Burmese-speaking pastors and believers who are learning and growing spiritually from books like Lead.

Gospel Growth through Translated Resources

Equipped with doctrinally sound teaching and biblically faithful resources, pastors, church leaders, and the church will grow and flourish in Myanmar and all over the world. Crossway’s Global Ministry Fund selects carefully chosen projects aimed at equipping the church around the world. We partner with publishers like Myanmar Evangelical Press to provide theologically sound resources to believers in need. We invite you to join us today in this kingdom work!

Pray for the translation process of the New City Catechism into Burmese happening throughout this year. Pray that the Lord will grant focus and wisdom to those who have been tasked with translating this resource.

Pray for Zaw and his church family to continue to grow in their understanding and love for the Lord as a result of the theological resources made available to them.


  1. “Burma”, Countries, The World Factbook, accessed December 22, 2023,
  2. Pseudonym used to protect the identity of this pastor.
  3. This is a fictitious story intended to describe a specific example of what Pastor Zaw shared often occurs in his home.
  4. Paul David Tripp, Lead: 12 Gospel Principles for Leadership in the Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 135.
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