We’re excited to have Jared at GCD today to discuss his newest book, The Pastor’s Justification, which deals with the struggles that pastors regularly face.
BRANDON SMITH: It seems like you’ve written or contributed to a few books a year over the past few years. What does the writing process look like for you?
JARED WILSON: I am a sadly undisciplined writer but not because I don’t write. I find myself not having to schedule writing time week to week, mainly because I can’t not write. It just comes out, and always has since I was a kid, actually. My book and article projects are largely deadline driven, so I ramp up my focus time on particular projects the closer I am to something being due. But week to week, most of my project writing is done on Wednesdays and Fridays. Wednesdays is also when I write the bulk of my Sunday sermon.
B: After so many books centered on believers and their relationship to Jesus and the gospel, what led you to writing a book specifically for pastors?
J: The calling and office is so peculiar. Pastors certainly don’t need a different gospel or a “bigger” gospel than the laity. The same gospel works for all of us, and is eternal enough for any person. But I think many pastors get so preoccupied in giving advice, counsel, ministry, etc., they neglect to feed themselves. The statistics of pastoral burnout and depression are sobering and revealing. I wanted to take a shepherding approach to shepherds with this book, helping my brothers apply the security and confidence and humility that comes in Christ’s finished work to their specific calling and tasks. We lack for lots of resources in that department. Many books for pastors are for the ministerial toolkit. I wanted to write one for the ministerial heart.
B: The description for the book begins with: “Ministry can be brutal. Discouragement, frustration, and exhaustion are common experiences for all church leaders, often resulting in a lack of joy and a loss of focus.” What are some major themes that you try to capture in the book?
J: The first part of the book is a general exposition of 1 Peter 5, addressing aspects of the pastor’s character and calling. The second part of the book is a general exposition of the 5 Solas of the Reformation tradition, applying these hallmark truths to the pastor’s vocation. The biggest themes addressed in every chapter and both sections are the pastor’s sense of confidence and security, which is the result of his trust for fulfillment and satisfaction. Those big themes impact all the little matters, from a pastor’s daily devotions to how much time he spends with his family or how he spends his money, each of which (and more) is discussed in the book.
B: As a pastor yourself, what part of the book did you need to hear the most?
J: Every iteration of seeking the approval of God, not men. This is tough for pastors of every kind of church, small to big and every point in between, and I’ve been on both ends of the shrinking and growing church spectrum, but speaking personally, it becomes more difficult to seek God’s approval rather than man’s as I have led a growing church and as I’ve begun navigating a public ministry of writing and speaking.
B: What is the greatest encouragement you can give to struggling pastors?
J: God sees, God knows, and God will vindicate you. You are totally loved, totally approved, and totally justified in Christ.
Jared C. Wilson (@jaredcwilson) is Becky’s husband and Macy and Grace’s daddy, and also the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont and the author of the books Gospel Wakefulness, Your Jesus is Too Safe, Abide, Seven Daily Sins, and Gospel Deeps. He blogs almost daily at The Gospel-Driven Church.
[You can order The Pastor’s Justification on Amazon.]