The Obedient Pastor

Obedience Precedes Relevance

Most pastors I know have a more up-and-down devotional life than most church members think they do–but a deeper relationship to God than they themselves think they do. What any of us think isn’t the point. The point is that without our earnest pursuit of God’s heart in it’s vast entirety we will live and serve from spiritual poverty rather than spiritual riches–and our churches will likely reflect this. We’ll see it in lack of passion and obedience.

If there is a threat to the church today greater than our current obsession with politics, it isn’t a lack of “relevancy,” or a lack of “mattering.” It is that too few of us are up for that “long obedience in the same direction,” (Eugene Peterson’s phrase) that ends up mattering in the world. We don’t matter, because we don’t obey…pastors included.

If we aren’t obedient, we are irrelevant. And, if we are obedient, the relevance of God will shine through us.

I once heard a young man asked a veteran pastor what He thought the world needed most from today’s pastors. The veteran said, “Pastors who walk more closely with Jesus on a daily basis.” The young man asked for something more tangible and the veteran pastor gave a similar answer. The exasperated young man was fishing for a particular type of answer and said privately he the thought the pastor was out of touch with the real issues of today.

That sort of thinking is our problem.

The beginning of ministry is this: stay close to God and be faithfully obedient. Relevance will follow.

More tomorrow.


Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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2 thoughts on “The Obedient Pastor

  1. The first person we lead is ourselves! Eugene Peterson’s book A Long Obedience In The Same Direction is a classic and must read for all Pastors. Thanks for the reminder Tim, God BLESS you today and always!

  2. A veteran pastor once wrote to a young man how to remain relevant and impactful at the church at which he was preaching: “Practice these things and live by them so that your progress will be visible to all. Focus on working on your own development and on what you teach. If you do this, you will save yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Tim 4:16/CEB) The priority of governing self before others is striking.