Advice to Pastors: How to Help Your People Be More Satisfied in God
1) Love God will all your heart and soul and mind and strength in the presence of other people. It is contagious.
2) Love other people from the power of God's grace. That is, show them the beauty of Christ through his love for them in the way you love them.
3) Tell stories about those who were ravished by the beauty and glory of God. It seems that true narratives of peoples' experience with the worth of God are very awakening.
4) Describe God's value—his treasure—in lavish terms.
5) Teach the people how to pray for the transformation of their own hearts, that is, teach them how to pray with the psalmists, "Incline my heart to Thy testimonies and not to getting gain."
6) Model for the people extended meditation and reflection on the word of God. Most people do not know how to take a word or phrase or sentence of scripture, commit it to memory and roll it over again and again in their mind and look at it from different sides and ask many questions about it and apply it to different aspects of their life and think of analogies of it in their mind. But it's precisely in this cogitating that the juices in the fruit begin to flow down and awaken the taste buds of the soul.
7) Show the people how to find specific, particular promises in the Bible to savor. When Paul says in Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing . . .", he is pointing out that joy and peace rise up as we trust in God's precious and very great promises. So people need to do more specific searching for promises and then hold them in their minds and dwell on them as they go through the day.
8) Pray for your people that their hearts would be softened and made tender and more susceptible to the beauty of Christ.
9) Help your people to turn off the television. Few things in our culture are more spiritually numbing than the television. Even the so-called "good" shows are by and large banal and low-minded and anything but cultivating of a rich, deep capacity to enjoy God. And when you add to that the barrage of suggestive advertisements that accompany virtually every program, I do not wonder why so many of our professing Christians are spiritually incapable of experiencing high thoughts and deep emotions.
10) Point the people to God-centered biography. The struggles and the triumphs of Christians who have known the glory and greatness of God are very engaging and awakening.
11) Show the people how to transpose their joys in natural things into joy in God. Here's what I mean. Even the most joyless person seems to have one or two things in their lives that make them happy. It might be their family. It might be the night sky in the north woods. It might be fishing. Help them to make a transposition, that is, to take the line of music called "joy" in their soul and transpose it up from the natural to the supernatural by an act of faith in God as the one who created the family or the night sky or the fishing. Help them see that all the things that are truly delightful in this world, which awaken pleasures in their hearts, are gifts of God and are reflections of his character and his goodness. If they are capable of delighting in natural things, then by the grace of the Holy Spirit they may be capable of transposing those very joys into a higher key and thus discovering joy in God.
12) Call the people for confession and renunciation of plaguing sins that make them feel inauthentic and block true affection for God.
13) Teach them about the necessity and value of suffering in the Christian life and how it is not worth comparing to the glory to be revealed.
Those are some of the things that might help your people.
What I find is that the most helpful things are simply to attend to your own soul and what it is that kindles delight for God in you and then share that with others.
Blessings on you as you perform the high task of mid-wifery in bringing joy in God to birth in your congregation.
©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For Internet posting, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org