At Westminster Theological Seminary’s graduation ceremony this year an honorary doctorate was awarded to Geoff Thomas, pastor of Alfred Place Baptist Church in Aberystwyth. Geoff graduated from Westminster Seminary in 1964, and for over 40 years has pastored the same congregation.
In his address to the students, he outlined the blessings and privileges of pastoral ministry, a word that encourages all of us who labour in that calling.
There is no greater privilege than to be a pastor-preacher. In the para-church there is extraordinary fascination and vitality (but also there can be self-promotion), and you may well be drawn into some of its ministries, but consider the rich diversity and satisfaction of the work of the local minister. He teaches the Bible to all ages and states of men and women, boys and girls. He lives on to see the fruit of his ministry in their lives. He evangelizes, visits the dying, counsels, writes, organizes, goes to people’s homes, inspires, rebukes, stirs things up and cools things down, involves himself with the affairs of his congregation and denomination, attends conferences, assemblies and serves on committees. There is no richer or happier life. Its foundation is the donation of the ascended, reigning Lord who gives some pastors and teachers. Its boundaries and priorities are defined by the apostolic conviction, “We will give ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.” Its sustenance is the divine river of grace. God never puts us where he is not present and where his grace cannot keep us. God never gives graces that he does not intend to be used for his glory and the good of his people. There is a need everywhere for sensible, caring, sound and holy ministers of the new covenant. God is their all sufficiency. May you be satisfied with him and be kept by him for long, enriching lives of Christian service. Prepare for the blessedness of such a vocation by daily appropriating your great High Priest.