Called to Full Time Ministry?

This week I began reading Jason Keith Allen’s book, Letters to my Students, in which he asks an important question for those who feel called to full time ministry: Are you sure? Here he quoted Spurgeon:

The first sign of the heavenly calling is an intense, all-absorbing desire for the work. In order to be a true call to the ministry, there must be an irresistible, overwhelming craving and raging thirst for telling to others what God has done to our own souls.

C.H. Spurgeon
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The Ruin of Many Pastors

R.A. Torrey, in his short biography of D. L. Moody:

“I believe more promising [ministers] have gone on the rocks through self-sufficiency and self-esteem than through any other cause. I can look back for forty years, or more, and think of many men who are now wrecks or derelicts who at one time the world thought were going to be something great. But they have disappeared entirely from the public view. Why? Because of overestimation of self. Oh, the men and women who have been put aside because they began to think that they were somebody, that they were “IT,” and therefore God was compelled to set them aside.

Continue reading The Ruin of Many Pastors

Like Balm for the Soul

In the book “Encouragement for Today’s Pastors: Help from the Puritans, Terry Slachter and Joel Beeke’s words are like balm for the pastor’s soul. It is amazing how we sometimes feel like we are the only ones facing ministry problems. The Puritans have been there and they offer wise words for us who do ministry in the 21st century.

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Pastors and the After-Sermon Comments

Wise words from Thabiti Anyabwile:

Perhaps the most perilous moments in a preacher’s life are those 20 minutes spent after the service greeting the people as they leave. Smiles are exchanged, hands are shaken, prayer requests are given, jokes are told, and feedback is delivered. How the preacher handles the feedback determines a great deal. Critical feedback can crush. Positive feedback can puff up. Everything from despondency to pride grows right there at the church door. Our people mean well. Their encouragements are meant to help. Even discouraging comments, when viewed properly, are often meant to strengthen. We must learn from it all and keep serving in love.

But the one thing we must not do is trust after-sermon comments as a final measure of how faithful or effective our preaching is. We don’t (or shouldn’t!) preach for an “Amen.” We don’t (or shouldn’t!) preach in the fear of man. We don’t (or shouldn’t!) begin to think those few comments (and they are few) represent the entirety of the church or the entirety of God’s work. The Master works his plan well beyond the sight of men. So we shouldn’t finally trust the comments of our people, or even our own assessments.

Malachi on Modern Preachers

Malachi’s words for Old Testament priests could very well be a warning for modern preachers who talk more about pop psychology and prosperity gospel more than the Word of God:

“For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, because he is the messenger of the LORD of Hosts.

You, on the other hand, have turned from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have violated the covenant of Levi,” says the LORD of Hosts. “So I in turn have made you despised and humiliated before all the people because you are not keeping My ways but are showing partiality in your instruction.” (Malachi 2:7-9)

Fire in the Bones

Charles Spurgeon on preaching the gospel:

If a man be truly called of God to the ministry, I will defy him to withhold himself from it. A man who has really within him the inspiration of the Holy Ghost calling him to preach cannot help it. He must preach. As fire within the bones, so will that influence be until it blazes forth. Friends may check him, foes criticise him, despisers sneer at him, the man is indomitable; he must preach if he has the call of heaven. All earth might forsake him; but he would preach to the barren mountain-tops. If he has the call of heaven, if he has no congregation, he would preach to the rippling waterfalls, and let the brooks hear his voice. He could not be silent.

Charles H. Spurgeon, The New Park Street Pulpit (Spurgeon Sermon Collection; Accordance electronic ed. 2 vols.; Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2004), n.p.