In preparing a training session on hospitality I found myself wading through a few older John Piper sermons. In one particular sermon from 1985 I read this quote:
“When I am dead and gone and another man stands in this pulpit to candidate as your pastor, O how I pray that you will ask: Does he relate everything to God? Or is he content to simply promote morals? Is there distinctively Christian theology in all he says? Or could his messages be spoken by a tender-hearted secular psychologist with keen insight into how to get along better?” -John Piper, sermon from 1985
That was 1985. Fast forward to 2012/13. The day has arrived when “another man stands in the pulpit” of Bethlehem Baptist Church. That man is Jason Meyer. Of whom Piper has said:
I joyfully and expectantly commend him to you with all my heart. Not only because of a long list of gifts and graces and competencies, but also because I believe God has chosen him and anointed him for this role. May the Lord confirm this with a hope-filled, happy, unified vote of the Bethlehem family.
It is because of the mercy and goodness of God that Bethlehem Baptist Church is supplied with a godly pastor. The means that God used to accomplish that purpose can be found in Piper’s statements from 1985. For 30 years he gave his flock a vision of what his successor should look like. It was not by accident that Piper could say, “I joyfully and expectantly commend him to you with all my heart”. Piper had labored for that moment for three decades.
The lesson for us?
The second that you step into the pastorate begin preparing the congregation for your successor and being praying for him.
It is not that you do not intend to have staying power. You prepare for your successor because you are not in control of your stay. Unless the Lord returns, the church you now serve will someday have someone else as their shepherd. A faithful shepherd prays that his sheep are fed for their entire life—not just for the season in which he has the title of her pastor.