Three Questions with Steve Farish

Communications Staff — September 8, 2010

For the latest edition of “Towers,” Managing Editor Aaron Cline Hanbury had the opportunity to speak with Stephen J. Farish, senior pastor of Crossroads Church in Grayslake, Ill.

You’ve pastored men like Wayne Grudem and Tom Nettles. How do you approach pastoring men who have themselves contributed to your own theological education?

God has granted me the amazing privilege of serving as pastor to great teachers of his Word. I thank the Lord that they have been men of genuine humility, so much so that they were anxious to learn from a preacher somewhat younger and certainly substantially less knowledgeable about the Bible than they. Godly men like Drs. Nettles and Grudem have the teachable spirit that the book of Proverbs commends to us (2:15; 19:20; etc.). In the end, I found that serving as pastor to great teachers of the Bible in many ways is like serving other Christians as shepherd of their souls (1 Pt. 5:1-4). All Christians are different and have particular needs related to their individual circumstances. However, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we also have certain needs in common. Great teachers of the Bible still need to grow in their knowledge and wisdom of the Word of God, just like all other believers. Great teachers of the Bible still need to grow in the sanctification the Holy Spirit works under the authority of the preached word. They still need preachers who rightly divide the Word of God, so that the Lord convicts their hearts of sin and righteousness, and so that the Holy Spirit gives them direction for their lives.

I must also say, however, that when the Lord providentially plants a great Christian teacher under a pastor’s care, that pastor should take advantage of every opportunity the Lord brings to learn from that teacher as well. It consistently amazed me how generous Drs. Nettles and Grudem were with their time, given that they are two incredibly busy men. Because of their generosity, the Lord has blessed me with a deeper and, I think, more biblically faithful practice of pastoral ministry.

Whose preaching, heard or read, has most affected you during your years pastoring?

There are many preachers from whom I have learned the past 15 years, including the two men mentioned above, who in addition to being great teachers of the word, are also great preachers.  However, I would say that the two men from whom I have learned the most about preaching are John Piper and Jonathan Edwards. From Dr. Piper I have drawn the lessons of faithful and deep biblical exposition and preaching with God-given passion, as if life and death depended on the preached word, precisely because life and death dohang on the preached word. Jonathan Edwards has set for the rest of us preachers the example of a heart set on fire by the beauty and glory of the living God. Edwards has taught us the desperate need we preachers have for the grace of the Holy Spirit to stir the affections of our hearers as we preach. Edwards also has left to us preachers the heritage of faithfulness to Scripture above all else, even when it means loss of a position and great suffering. I should also mentioned with thanksgiving that I trained 20 years ago under a man committed to expository preaching-Rev. Jim Wood-and from him I learned how to apply the Word faithfully to the life of congregation and to the glory of God.

What’s playing on the radio while you drive into work?

I have to confess I do not generally listen to Christian radio, though I am certainly grateful to the Lord for much of it. Classical music is what the Lord uses as balm for my soul, especially baroque music, and particularly the music of J.S. Bach. I hope the Lord places me in the corner of heaven where Bach is leading the choir, and they are singing his famous church-service cantatas.

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