Strengthening pastors .... focuses on helping them grow in their knowledge of God's Word and grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Thus, I exhort them in reading and studying that Word at five levels:
1. Personal reading: It is amazing how often pastoral pressure leads to ignoring this particular intake of God's Word. Personal reading and study is not meant to be sermon prep time, nor Bible study prep. Rather, the goal is to routinely (daily) ground oneself in the Word of God, being under the influence of God’s personal Word to each of us to shape, mold, guide, form, and inform us.
2. Reading with Wife: This is entirely different than the first because we are reading orally, which is necessarily slower. This means that each has to sacrifice the pace of reading for the sake of the other person. But the benefit of doing so is well worth the time.
3. Pastoral Bible Study: Here the pastor studies the texts, preferably in the original language texts, also examining translations, and historical commentaries on how this Word has been understood in previous generations. But this also involves working with other pastors who can share insights, and who can encourage and support one another in this vital task.
4. Bible Study: Here the focus is on Bible study with others within the congregation. Here the pastor has significant influence on many others in their spiritual lives. The pastor grows by reading, studying, and reflecting on the texts - long before the class ever takes place. But the pastor can benefit from class participation learning how each is perceiving the text, how it can be applied to daily living.
5. Liturgical Use: The regular pericope readings offer great opportunities to incorporate the liturgical life with the worship life of the congregation.
So the challenge for pastors is to grow in consistency in each of these areas. As God works through that Word, pastors grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. May God bless all our pastors as they do so.