Eugene Peterson once said: I’ve loved being a pastor, almost every minute of it. It’s a difficult life because it’s a demanding life. But the rewards are enormous—the rewards of being on the front line of seeing the gospel worked out in people’s lives. I remain convinced that if you are called to it, being a pastor is the best life there is.
For those of us in pastoral ministry, we understand exactly what Eugene is saying. Pastoring is a difficult and demanding vocation, but if this is our calling, absolutely nothing is better!
In this Book Notes, I want to alert you to a number of books that are worth a read.
JR Briggs’ recent book Fail:Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure is a must read. We have all faced tough times in ministry. This book helps us deal with our times of failure, and also helps each of us to develop a better theology of ministry and the church.
Charles Stone has writtenPeople-Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval-Motivated Leadership. We don’t like to admit it, but pastors are people pleasers. That gets us into trouble. Stone helps to navigate the pitfalls.
Chuck DeGroat reminds us that we can only minister out of who we are–our best and our not so good. Toughest People to Love: How to Understand, Lead, and Love the Difficult People in Your Life — Including Yourself is an excellent book to help us examine our own lives, and also minister more effectively and compassionately to those in our congregation.
Andrew Purves in The Crucifixion of Ministry: Surrendering Our Ambitions to the Service of Christ reminds us that we need to step away from our ambitions, move beyond our ego issues and give up our ministry to Christ. This book hurts. It gets to the heart of who we are. So read it!
Finally, Eugene Peterson’s memoir The Pastor: a Memoir is an important book. Peterson is a counter balance to my driven Type A way of doing ministry. His themes on the key roles of the pastor, on Sabbath keeping, and on identifying the ways the American church has bought into American consumerism are critical for us to hear.
Paul says in 2 Cor 4:1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Ministry is tough, but it is the Lord’s ministry. So we do not give up! These books will help you stay on course.