It seems as though a growing number of pastors don’t understand the urgency of the study. And for those who do understand its significance, it often gets drowned out by the pressing duties of ministry. It also seems as though there a growing number of church members who don’t expect this from their pastors. Therefore, I think it is appropriate to regularly remind everyone of its importance.
We can see its significance by way of comparison. Let us take a moment to see how the Scriptures compare those who have set their heart to study the Word and those who have turned aside from it. God’s word says,
For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. (Ezra 7:10)
In this passage we see that Ezra who is a contemporary of Malachi setting his heart to the study of God’s word, the practice of it, and teaching it. Set this in comparison to the indictment in the book of Malachi chapter 2.
And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the LORD of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it. So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the LORD of hosts. My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction. (Malachi 2:1-9)
We see a stark contrast distinguishing Ezra from these priests. Ezra has dedicated his life to seeking out God’s word, practicing it, and teaching it. He has set his heart to seeking out God and out of that comes his ministry to the people of Israel. While the other priests had sought to know nothing of the law. Instead they dedicated themselves only to their own interest. The priests not only neglected to seek out God’s commands they wouldn’t even listen to his voice. Out of their selfish motivation they began instructing others for selfish gain and destroyed many.
We can see here that when study ceases ministry ends and deceitfulness begins. You may be performing all the right ordinances and you may be practicing all ten marks of a healthy church and still not be serving the Lord. Apart from having our hearts confronted by God’s Word you and I can profane even the holiest of ordinances, by using them for our own interest. So, the question is how important is the pastor’s study? The answer is very important. If you are a pastor, guard your study. There is no black or white why to accomplish this task, however you should set aside a time to be regularly confronted by God’s word. Study it for the sake of your own soul not just as an opportunity to gather words to speak to others. This doesn’t me that you will never be interrupted, it merely means that you aim at diligence in the study.
If you are a church member guard your pastor’s study with all vigilance, because your church depends on it. The first way you can assist your pastor in this area is to be understanding and let him know you understand. It doesn’t have to be elaborate but if you need to speak with him about something that isn’t urgent, ask “When would be a good time to get together?” Secondly, express gratitude for the work he accomplishes in the study. Thank him for the work he does in preparation for the many activities each week. Though you may only hear a 45 minute sermon on Sunday he spends days preparing that message and applying it to his heart. Third, listen like you care. As you listen to him teach or preach engage him with your eyes, act like you are interested not bored, and share with him the specific things he said that engaged your heart. I am grateful that many in our congregation exemplify these attributes and pray many other pastors experience this in their ministry.
If you are looking for some practical helps for encouraging your study you should check out the following links.
- Bible Study: A Student’s Guide
- How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour
- How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
- For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word
Contribute to the Discussion
- How do you guard your study?
- How do you guard your pastor’s study?