Lesson 12 – In Relationship to Yourself

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III   As a Man in Relation to Yourself

You must seek to gain and maintain an increasingly realistic understanding and acceptance of your own unique and present identity as a man and as a servant of God.
A.   Explanation of this axiom

1.   “Gain and maintain”

A measure of this accurate self-assessment is needed on the threshold of your ministry.

However, with the passing of time you are changing with respect to what you are as a man and as a servant of God.

2.   “Increasingly realistic understanding of your unique identity”

By the use of the word “realistic” I am underscoring the principle of Romans 12:3. Our view of ourselves must not be idealistic, inaccurate or visionary.

By “unique” I am simply underscoring the fact that each one of us is “one of a kind.” We must not press ourselves into an artificial, pre-formed mold of our own making or one made by others for us.

3.   As a man and as a servant of God

What you are in the totality of your redeemed humanity

What you are with reference to your present age, measure of gift, experience, etc.

Joshua 14:6ff
1 John 2:12ff

B.   The biblical basis for this axiom

Rom. 12:1-8
Mt. 25:14ff
Ps. 139:13-17
Prov. 27:8

John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997), vol. II, pp. 117-119.

William Arnot, Parables of Our Lord (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1981), pp. 520-521.

Charles Bridges, A Commentary on Proverbs (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968), pp. 507-508.

C.   Some major qualifications or perspectives conditioning our understanding of this axiom.

1.   There exists in the wisdom and sovereignty of God a great diversity of legitimate preaching style and effective pastoral ministry.

1 Cor. 12:4-7
1 Cor. 3:4-7


a.   Be careful when you encounter preachers of the past in biographies, etc.

James W. Alexander, Thoughts on Preaching (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), p. 160.

b.   Do not get all your formative influence from one man in the present.

1 Cor. 3:21

2.   The Holy Spirit is not the author or owner of the unnatural and the affected.

Jn. 8:36
Ps. 139

Ian Macpherson, The Burden of the Lord (New York: Abingdon Press, 1955), pp. 16-17.


a.   This does not imply that we accept fatalistically our weaknesses and limitations and not try to overcome them.

2 Tim. 2:15
1 Tim. 4:15

b.   This does not imply that we will not be influenced by the unconscious imitative element of preaching.

1 Cor. 15:33
Prov. 13:20

c.   This does not imply that we should not consciously imitate biblical principles and sound rhetorical principles embodied in men.

Phil. 4:9
Phil. 3:17
1 Cor. 11:1

3.   The true people of God and discerning sinners will generally be suspicious of the forced and the unnatural.

2 Cor. 4:1-2

4.   Summary and Conclusion

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), pp. 126-127.

It is a liberating thing to live out the role God has designed for you rather than to play the role which men have mapped out for you.

[For the content of the following section see MI-MB-23 and MI-MB-24 of Pastor Martin’s audio series of Pastoral Theology lectures.] i

IV.   As a Man in Relation to His Immediate Family

A.   The man of God must attain, maintain and manifest an exemplary biblical standard of domestic competence.

1.   The words “attain, maintain and manifest” are calculated to underscore the fact that these issues are neither static nor secret.

As the family grows in size, as one’s wife and children pass through various stages of growth and development, our competence must parallel those changes.


2.   By the word “exemplary” I am underscoring that the man of God must be a standard-bearer in this area.


3.   By the use of the word “biblical” I am underscoring the fact that the man of God must educate his conscience in these matters by the Word of God.

Neither tradition nor culture must set the standard.


B.   The necessity for domestic competence in the life of the man of God

1.   General Christian duty

Eph. 5:25ff
1 Pet. 3:7
Eph. 6:4
Tim. 5:8

2.   Specifically

a.   Explicit biblical requirements for the office of an elder

1 Tim. 3:1-7
Titus 1:6,8

b.   The position which he occupies as an example to the flock

Titus 2:10
Phil. 2:14,15
1 Pet. 5:1-3
1 Tim. 4:12
Titus 2:7
Mt. 10:25
Phil. 4:9
Acts 20:3
1 Pet. 2:21
Mt. 23:3,15

c.   The particular circumstances of our generation

Titus 1:12
Rom. 12:1,2
Phil. 2:14,15


C.   The peculiar ministerial temptations to domestic incompetence

1.   The temptation to rationalize domestic failures in light of your ministerial duties

Mt. 15:3-6

2.   The temptation to be insensitive to the special pressure brought on your wife and children because you are a minister

a.   Wife

1)   Emotional pressures

2)   Physical pressures

3)   Spiritual pressures

Abraham Booth, “Pastoral Cautions,” in The Christian Pastor’s Manual, ed. John Brown (Ligonier, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1991), pp. 74-75.

4)   Temptation to submit to the unreasonable demands of a wife not fully sympathetic to your calling.

b.   Children

1)   Direct pressures

a)   Monitor the inordinate attention which may be heaped upon your children in virtue of your position.

b)   Neutralize their temptation to have an inflated view of themselves and to set themselves over their peers.

2)   Indirect pressures

a)   Temptation to bitterness and resentment because of the demands of your office

b)   Temptation to resentment because of wrong motives of discipline and enforcement of standards

c)   Temptation to resentment because of an unrealistic standard of expectation of them as preacher’s kids

d)   Temptation to frame a wrong conception of daddy as a man of God professionally but not in reality


D.   Practical counsel for maintenance

1.   Pray in and periodically refresh your convictions of the unyielding necessity of exemplary domestic competence.

2.   Seek the periodic assessment of your domestic life by competent observers.

3.   Seek the periodic assessment of your domestic life by your wife and children.

4.   Bind yourself to some inescapable pressure in this area of domestic competence.

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