Pastor Appreciation Month

Pastors Need the Gospel Too

Post Icon

The good news of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension is the foundation of the Christian life (1 Cor. 15:2). The truths of the gospel sustain, empower, and motivate believers so that no believer—including pastors—ever outgrow their need for the gospel. To remain effective and faithful in ministry, pastors must do more than minister the gospel to their people; they must live in the gospel themselves.

Pastors Need the Gospel

Every week, pastors preach and teach the gospel, pray the gospel over their people, counsel hurting people with the gospel, and minister the gospel in other ways. Ironically, the gospel can be at the center of our ministry and still not be at the center of our lives. Sometimes we forget how desperately we need the gospel too.

While God calls pastors to shepherd His people, pastors are first and foremost, children of God in need of the good news of Jesus. Ministering the gospel to others is no substitute for the gospel’s work in our own lives. Studying to preach the gospel is not the same as daily preaching the truths of the gospel to yourself. Counseling a married couple in the gospel is not the same as receiving help to fight against your own struggles. For pastors, the gospel must be more than a truth we minister to others; the good news of Jesus Christ must be a priority in our own lives.

Now, no pastor I know would ever downplay their need for the gospel, and yet, many pastors—myself included—admit struggling to keep the gospel central in their own walk. How is this possible?

Identity Crisis

A common struggle for pastors involves our identity. If we do not remain grounded in our identity in Christ, we will find our identity elsewhere. A place many pastors turn to in their identity crisis is their ministry. Unfortunately, when our position becomes our identity, we begin looking for satisfaction and fulfillment in ministry rather than finding it in our union with Christ. Naturally, we then prioritize ministry over our own relationship with God. As pastors, what we do for God must never supersede who we are in Jesus.

Ignoring Sin

We can also become so focused on helping others fight against sin that we overlook the sin in our own lives. We know the importance of godly character, but as we constantly teach and preach about holiness and how the gospel helps believers overcome sin, we wrongly assume ministering the gospel is enough for our own hearts and minds. But we also need the truths of the gospel in our pursuit of holiness. Preparing a sermon on how the gospel helps Christians fight temptation is not the same as applying the truths of the gospel to yourself.

As pastors, we need the gospel every day. Our people need the gospel for encouragement, and so do we. Our people need the gospel for correction, and so do we. Our people need the gospel to mature in Christ and to be faithful in ministry, and so do we.

Making the Gospel Our Foundation

Countless times I’ve pleaded with my congregation to make the gospel their foundation for life. I’ve even given them simple, practical ways to remain focused on the gospel throughout the week. Ironically, I’ve not always followed my own advice. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s not enough to prioritize the gospel in my ministry to others; I must make the gospel my foundation too. Here are three practical ways pastors can stay grounded in the gospel.


I’ve learned the hard way that it’s not enough to prioritize the gospel in my ministry to others; I must make the gospel my foundation too.
Guard Yourself

In the same way a shepherd guards their sheep, pastors must guard their own lives. In Acts 20:28, Paul exhorts the elders in Ephesus to “be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers.” I feel like most pastors are taught how to guard their flock but give little thought to how they might guard themselves. One of the most important ways we can guard our hearts and minds is to remain focused on the gospel. By guarding our lives, we rest in our identity in Christ, fight against sin with the gospel, deter joylessness and disillusionment in ministry, and cling to our blessed hope.

Pursue Godly Accountability

Just as you encourage your congregation to speak the truth in love to one another, you need godly men to speak the truth in love to you. Every pastor needs people they trust to encourage them in their pursuit of holiness. In his letter to Titus, Paul explains that the gospel not only saves, but also instructs “us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age” (Titus 2:12; CSB). I don’t know about you, but I need godly men to help me apply the gospel through accountability so that I can say no to sin and yes to Christlikeness.

Preach the Gospel to Yourself

Preaching the gospel to yourself might sound a little cliché, but the truth it communicates is invaluable to all Christians, including pastors. Pastors face temptations to pursue glory, power, fame, and money. Pastors wrestle with their identity. Pastors sin. We need to preach the truths of the gospel to ourselves as reminders of who Christ is, what He’s accomplished, and what that means for us. Daily reminders of the good news aid us in our fight against sin, motivate us to pursue Christlikeness, help us maintain joy, and guard our identity in Christ. Again, it’s not enough to preach the gospel to others; we also must preach the gospel to ourselves.

God calls pastors to minister the gospel faithfully and effectively. But as we do ministry, we must ensure that we are not ignoring the gospel in our own lives.

  • Pastor Appreciation Month
Philip Crouse Jr.

Philip Crouse Jr. was born in King, NC, where he continues to reside with his wife, Mandy, and their 4 children—Adalee, Bryce, Caris, and Everly. He is currently serving as pastor of Germanton Baptist Church in Germanton, NC. He is an adjunct professor in the Piedmont Divinity School of Carolina University. He has PhD in Applied Theology in Preaching from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

More to Explore

post icon

Guarding Your Joy in Ministry

According to the Barna Group, 38% of pastors in the United States have considered walking away from ministry in the past year.[1] Maybe this number should surprise me, but it does not. I have heard firsthand about the sadness, grief, and disappointment from friends in ministry. To a certain degree, I have even experienced these emotions myself. But as I reflected on my conversations with other pastors and my own experiences, I began to see that it is not just the difficulties driving pastors to quit—difficulty is a part of ministry. Instead, it is how the difficulties and frustrations steal our joy that causes us to throw in the towel.

Never miss an episode, article, or study.

Sign up for the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership newsletter now!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.