Thursday, September 8, 2022

Written by Alan Vink

Categories: Pastors Blog

Comments: 0

Dear Pastors


I was asked recently what I thought was one skill (one quality, one attribute) that Pastors should possess these days. My first thought was my typical response, “highly developed leadership skills”. But in that brief moment when I thought about what is happening in our world I said, discernment.

In a day of disinformation, misinformation, information overload and fake news, surely this ability, this skill is more needed than ever. As a pastor and Christian leader I have always regarded the ability ‘to discern’ as very important but today I would go as far as to say that it is absolutely essential.

The New Testament Greek for discernment is δόκιμος (dokimos), meaning tested, approved, genuine, esteemed. The opposite is ἀδόκιμος (adokimos), meaning, not standing the test, worthless, disqualified, unfit, reprehensible.

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ” Philippians 1:9-10 (NKJV)

But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil”. Hebrews 5:14 (NKJV)

Synonyms include wisdom, understanding, insight, discretion, prudence, and testing.

One of the things that you will often hear in churches and groups that have deviated from the truth is, “that just didn’t feel right” or “that made me feel distinctly uncomfortable” or “there was something not right about what he/she spoke about this morning but I can’t put my finger on it” or “that was a bit of a stretch”. The challenge at these moments is to discern whether something is in fact wrong as in error or whether it is a signal for me to ‘test’ what I have just heard. Usually, it is one of these or quite possibly both. That’s at the receiving end if you like.

At the giving end, we who are pastor-teachers carry a weighty responsibility according to James 3:1. We are called upon to be accurate, to be skilful in handling the word of God, so much so that we will be judged more severely for what we teach and preach.

Not many [of you] should become teachers [serving in an official teaching capacity], my brothers and sisters, for you know that we [who are teachers] will be judged by a higher standard [because we have assumed greater accountability and more condemnation if we teach incorrectly]” Amplified.

There is no doubt in my mind that strange winds are blowing all around us all of the time in this present time in history. Further, it is so easy to be caught up in a strange wind these days…….so easy. Conspiracy theories abound, formally solidly conservative evangelical people are deconstructing and all this in a day when church going , bible believing Christians are spending way more time on the internet then in their bibles. Add into this the prevailing cultural ethic of - ‘I have my truth, you have your truth and everyone has a truth truth’ and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that we are living in perilous times.

So pastors may I encourage you to double down on solid study. Commit to orthodoxy (correct in teaching).

And finally when you are teaching the Bible may I encourage you to be very clear as to the difference between what ‘the bible says’ and what ‘[your name] says’. In other words the difference between your opinion and the truth of God’s word. They may not be the same.


Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.

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