It has been said that while many pastors of his day were respected by their churches, John Newton was loved by his. I found this quote by Richard Cecil in describing the heart of John Newton. It speaks volumes as to what is most important in the life and ministry of a minister of the gospel. Cecil writes,
With respect to his ministry, he appeared, perhaps, to least advantage in the pulpit; as he did not generally aim at accuracy in the composition of his sermons, or at any address in the delivery of them. His utterance was far from clear, and his attitudes ungraceful. He possessed, however, so much affection for his people, and so much zeal for their best interests, that the defect of his manner was of little consideration with his constant hearers; at the same time, his capacity and habit of entering into their trials and experience gave the highest interest to his ministry among them. Besides which, he frequently interspersed the most brilliant allusions; and brought forward such happy illustrations of his subject, and those with so much unction on his own heart, as melted and enlarged theirs. The parent-like tenderness and affection which accompanied his instruction made them prefer him to preachers who, on other accounts, were much more generally popular.
Jesus is the quintessential shepherd and he loves the sheep. More than anything, we need to love God’s sheep. The challenge we pastors face is when wolves also are found roaming about the flock, seeking to cause misery in the flock. We need God’s grace to remain faithful to the task.