Demonstrating Holiness As a Pastor

Does the pastor have a responsibility to set an example for his congregation? If so, what example must he set, and why? The Apostle Paul spoke boldly as to the role of a leader in the church. He believed setting an example was of great importance, and that example should be of Christ-centered character. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Many pastors teach Jesus’ character traits to follow from the pulpit, but how many believers would have the guts to say, “Be like me, because I’m trying to be like Christ?”

Demonstrating holiness then, is a part of the pastor’s role as a leader. Not holier-than-thou-ness, or a self-righteous arrogance where you are distancing yourself from your congregation and others around you. Rather, look for ways that looking at your life would lead others to look toward Christ. It’s a tall order, and here are a few places to begin dusting off cobwebs:

In your spiritual life. Your daily prayer and Bible study, your personal worship time and your time to grow and develop spiritually and in accountability with other believers is among the key ways you can demonstrate a Christ-surrendered life to your congregation. You are teaching people when you set aside time for prayer, study and biblical accountability. Are you in the Word and do you speak of the Word often? Are you beginning spiritual conversations with others, and reaching out to them in prayer and by seeking accountability? A pastor’s leadership begins with his own personal spiritual life.

In your family life. It is right to question the spiritual leadership of a pastor whose family is in disarray or dysfunction. Though you do not “control” your family or your children, the fact is that as the spiritual leader in the home you exercise God-given authority over them, and must give Christ-centered direction to them. The fact is that many men, perhaps the majority, do not know how to lead their homes spiritually. In fact, it may be easier to shepherd a congregation than to lead spiritually in your own home. Are you spending time regularly in prayer with your spouse, talking about spiritual matters with your children, and ministering together as a family? Are you encouraging your spouse and children to be involved in the church and to lead out in re-teaching and discipling others are you are discipling them? These are among the means by which a pastor demonstrates Christ-likeness in his family life.

In your church life. Many pastors begin here in terms of leadership, keeping their spiritual and family life “private”. Let me suggest that a pastor’s personal life is the foundation of their “church life”, and comes before your personal ministry involvement. It makes no sense to attend every meeting, lead every project or be the “go to” resource for others if your own personal and family spiritual growth and health suffers in the process. Jesus Himself never neglected His relationship to the Father to see to His disciples. Neither should you. A pastor in his church involvement, then, should model balance and priorities. Do what you can do, and what you cannot do, leave to others, or even leave undone if it will cause you to sacrifice your most important relationships.

In your public life. Finally, a pastor’s public life should be above reproach. This is all the more challenging in today’s culture, where social media can cause false rumors and innuendo to catch hold and spread like wildfire. A pastor must at all times be on guard against actions and attitudes which may be taken by others as sinful. A pastor too must communicate clearly both his intentions and his priorities to his congregation and the larger community. Finally, when a pastors sins (and he will), he must react with both honesty and humility. This is perhaps the most difficult aspect of leading others in Christ as a pastor.


Author: Eugene Mason, Communications Director for Cross Pointe Church under the leadership of Dr. James Merritt.