I love Paul’s humble wording in Ephesians 4. “I urge you,” he says (Eph 4:1). It’s a strong word, but it’s also a humble, compassionate word. “Come next to me,” he says. “Please let me walk beside you as I show you what it means to be called by God.” More than a request, Paul is begging. He’s pleading.
Frankly, Paul is a role model for every pastor. He cared so deeply about the people whom the Spirit had led him to serve and teach. He was willing to suffer tremendous physical and emotional pain to do what is necessary for their spiritual well being. Today, we hear reported that large numbers of pastors are discouraged and even depressed. Many of them are pouring their hearts and souls into the ministry. It can be exhausting because every step leads to another and another. A pastor never finishes his work because the growth of the church is never complete. In turn, the pastor gets battle fatigue. He gets tired.
Even so, he has no choice but to press on. Paul said, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1Co 9:16). When Jeremiah attempted to quit his ministry, he discovered it to be impossible. He said:
If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. (Jeremiah 20:9)
God gives his pastors a burden not just to preach but also to care for the souls of his people. They readily understand what Paul meant when he told the Ephesian elders, “For three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears” (Ac 20:31). To the Galatians, he said, “My little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!” (Gal 4:19).
Any pastor who truly understands his calling may not be the most gifted speaker or the most natural counselor, but he will love the church. He’ll feel anguish in his soul for the souls of others. He may suffer that all-too-common discouragement and even depression, but he’ll go wherever he has to and do whatever he must for as long as God requires to shepherd God’s people. He’ll pour himself into the ministry. If that means begging people to respond to the gospel in obedience, then so be it.
Paul says, “I urge you—I beg, I plead with you—to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Eph 4:1). What does it mean to walk worthy of our calling? First, Paul tells us that it requires unity with fellow believers. In the latter part of this chapter, he describes the uniqueness of our Christian walk. In Ephesians 5-6, he emphasizes moral purity, wisdom, and spiritual warfare.