The Mind of Christ in Pastoral Ministry

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). To have the mind of Christ is to know His will, redemptive plan and purpose. This is revealed to us through His written word by work of the Holy Spirit, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (:9-10). These verses teach that to have the mind of Christ on any given matter we must search the Holy Scriptures and listen for what the Holy Spirit says to us through them. This first and foremost is God’s provision for us to understand what the will of God is.

To have the Mind of Christ a person must submit himself to the Lord. Unless there is humility, meekness, and commitment it is unlikely that the mind of Christ can be known. A pastor must be a servant both to Christ and his congregation. Having this he will have the foundation for knowing God’s will and instruction, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:5-7).

In daily experience it is possible to know the will of God, to have the mind of Christ. This is usually brought about through a combination of the following:

    a) Bible Study: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). It is here that God’s will can be found, since the Scriptures are God’s revelation to us. It is in them that He reveals everything that we need to know about Him and His plans. It is impossible to have the mind of Christ if the Bible is neglected. When it is man relies upon personal intuition, which at best is suspect – “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:2). Like the Bereans that “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11), the pastor should be a student of the Bible. There are those who rely upon prophecies, dreams, visions, and inward voices rather than God’s written word. Though God on occasions may use these things they must first be checked out with Scripture before accepting them as the leading of God, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:12-14). In a real life situation were Paul needed to offer sound, spiritual advice on a matter that was not defined in God’s word, he said, “I think also that I have the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 7:40), meaning that he had sought God and believed that he had His mind on the problem at hand.

    b) Through Prayer: Through prayer we commune with God. If prayer is neglected then God’s will become less important to us and so we make use of personal desires and inclinations. Paul exhorts us to “Pray with without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When important decisions needed to be made the early church sought God’s will on the matter. The leaders especially understood the need for prayer – “continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).

    c) Observation: Observation cannot be relied upon as a safe method of discerning the mind of Christ in daily experience. If prayer and Bible study is in place then we have the tools to judge what we think we are learning through observation. Yet, God can use this to trigger a thought in our minds that will lead us to a more complete understanding of the matter in hand. God commanded Jeremiah to observe the potter at work, Ezekiel to watch the lifestyle of the priests; Jesus asked His followers to consider the daily lives of men, animals, and flowers. There will be times when the minister has searched the Scriptures and prayed but has received no immediate knowledge of the mind of Christ, yet suddenly God’s light will dawn on him as he goes about his daily business.

These three may not exhaust the ways that God chooses to communicate His will to us, but they are the foundation. It must be acknowledged that God’s must be according to His word and prayer (even were observation is used). The Holy Spirit uses these to direct us to a deeper relationship with Christ and a fuller understanding of His will. “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His … For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:9,14).