Speaking of the church members under his pastoral oversight in 19th century Scotland, pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne said these famous words,
“My people’s greatest need is my personal holiness.”
Today, when most people think of holiness, it usually conjures up negative images of someone who has a pompous, holier-than-thou attitude. It’s the picture of some miserable person legalistically separating themselves from “worldly activities” and self-righteously consecrating themselves to “religious activities.”
The good news is that the Bible gives us a very different understanding of holiness. Yes, it includes the concepts of separation and consecration. But It’s more about what you do with your heart than what you do with your hands.
Holiness is primarily about separating the affections of your heart away from your heart’s idols, those things you’re prone to look to for ultimate happiness other than Jesus Christ, so that you can redirect those affections more toward loving God and others deeply and well.
But I’m sorry to say that most of your future church members will probably not believe that their greatest need for their pastor is his personal holiness.