Shedd: The Religious Character of the Pastor

Homiletics and Pastoral TheologyThe first chapter of Shedd’s section on pastoral theology in Homiletics and Pastoral Theology is “The Religious Character and Habits of the Clergyman.” One of his main points here is to demonstrate how a faithful pastoral ministry naturally lends itself to growth in godliness.

Not only does the ministerial calling and profession require eminent piety, it tends to produce it. By his very position the clergyman is greatly assisted in attaining to a superior grade of Christian character; and if therefore he is a worldly and unspiritual man, he is deeply culpable. For, so far as his active life is concerned, his proper professional business is religious . . . This is highly favorable to spirituality. (283)

This quote brings two thoughts immediately to mind. First, I am reminded of how richly blessed I am to be able to pursue the study of the Bible, regular prayer, and the making of disciples every day. What a privilege it is to be paid to practice the spiritual disciplines!  I am regularly reminded of my advantage here as I encourage my brothers in the church with their own spiritual disciplines, in the context of a family, full-time job, and other activities. I have been richly blessed to be allowed to devote my every day to God’s Word, and hope I do not forget that. Second, Shedd is right that this great privilege leaves the pastor with no excuse for worldliness. Would we who handle the things of God each day grow as cold to Christ and as enamored with this present world as those who never come in contact with Scripture? This is certainly within my capacity for sin, but there is absolutely no reason why the pastor should not be setting the pace for spiritual maturity. 

Here are a few specific ways Shedd sees the duties of pastoral ministry as means of grace:

He must maintain regular habits of communion with God in prayer. The lettered Christian is more liable to neglect this duty and privilege than the unlettered, because his mind is constantly conversant with divine truth, and he is exposed to the temptation of substituting this for the direct expression of desires and wants . . . It is no sufficient to converse with the truth, for truth is impersonal. We must converse with the God of truth. (289, 291)

Now we affirm that the careful and uniform preparation of two sermons in every six days is a means of grace. It is in its very nature adapted to promote the piety of the clergyman. Punctual and faithful sermonizing fixes his thoughts intently on divine truth, and preserves his mind from frivolous and vain wandering. It brings his feelings and emotions into contact with that which is fitted to enliven and sanctify them . . . (297) 

. . . a faithful and constant performance of the duty of pastoral visitation is a means of grace. No one who has had any experience in this respect will deny this for a moment. There is nothing better adapted to develop piety, to elicit the latent principles of the Christian, than going from house to house, and conversing with all varieties of character and all grades of intelligence upon the subject of religion. (299)


About Eric Smith

Sinner saved by the grace of Jesus, husband of Candace, father of Coleman and Crockett, West Tennessean, pastor of Sharon Baptist Church, student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
This entry was posted in Christian Life, Pastoral Ministry, Preaching and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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