How a Pastor Should Love God

One of the most important discoveries I have ever made is this truth: God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him. This is the motor that drives my ministry as a pastor. It affects everything I do.

Whether I eat or drink or preach or counsel or whatever I do, my aim is to glorify God by the way I do it (1 Cor. 10:31). Which means my aim is to do it in way that shows how the glory of God has satisfied the longings of my heart. If my preaching betrayed that God had not even met my own needs, it would be a fraud. If Christ is not the satisfaction of my heart, would people really believe me when I herald his words, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35)?

The glory of bread is that it satisfies. The glory of living water is that it quenches thirst. We do not honor the refreshing, self-replenishing, pure water of a mountain spring by lugging buckets of water up the path to make our contributions from the ponds below. We honor the spring by feeling thirsty, and getting down on our knees, and drinking with joy. Then we say, “Ahhhh!” (that’s worship!); and we go on our journey in the strength of the fountain (that’s service). The mountain spring is glorified most when we are most satisfied with its water.

Tragically most of us have been taught that duty, not delight, is the way to glorify God. But we have not been taught that delight in God is our duty! Being satisfied in God is not an optional add-on to the real stuff of Christian duty. It is the most basic demand of all. “Delight yourself in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4) is not a suggestion but a command. So are: “Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2); and: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4).

The burden of my ministry is to make plain to others that “The steadfast love [of the Lord] is better than life” (Psalm 63:3). And if it is better than life, it is better than all that life in this world offers. This means that what satisfies is not the gifts of God, but the glory of God–the glory of his love, the glory of his power, the glory of his wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

This is why the Psalmist, Asaph, cried out, “Whom I have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever” (Psalm 73:25-26). Nothing on the earth–none of God’s good gifts of creation–could satisfy Asaph’s heart. Only God could. This is what David meant when he said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you ” (Psalm 16:2).

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John Piper
John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. John is the author of more than 30 books and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at © Desiring God.

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