Before entering into full-time pastoral ministry, I read Andrew Purves’s book The Crucifixion of Ministry: Surrendering Our Ambitions to the Service of Christ. In that book I came across some of the most insightful words I’ve ever read. Here they are. (The words in bold really resonate with me):
To ministers let me say this as strongly as I can. Preach Christ, preach Christ, preach Christ.
Get out of your offices and get into your studies.
Quit playing office manager and program director, quit staffing committees, and even right now recommit yourselves to what you were ordained to do, namely the ministry of the Word and sacraments.
Pick up good theology books again: hard books, classical texts, great theologians.
Claim the energy and time to study for days and days at a time.
Disappear for long hours because you are reading Athanasius on the person of Jesus Christ or Wesley on sanctification or Augustine on the Trinity or Calvin on the Christian life or Andrew Murray on the priesthood of Christ. Then you will have something to say that’s worth hearing.
With those thoughts in mind, I came across some words I’d like to share with you from some of the giants in church history. I’ve taken Pastor Kevin DeYoung’s advice and I try to read five pages a day from some of the church’s greatest writers and theologians. These won’t be long quotes, but they will be thought provoking. Here we go:
The preacher must be surrendered to God in the holiest devotion. He is not a professional man, his ministry is not a profession; it is a divine institution, a divine devotion. He is devoted to God. His aim, aspirations, ambition are for God and to God, and to such prayer is as essential as food is to life. ~ E. M. Bounds (The Preacher and Prayer)
It is more important that we should remember God than that we should breathe: indeed, if one may say so, we should do nothing else besides. ~ Gregory of Nazianzus (Oration 27, On God and Christ)
The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will forever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting Feast. ~ Jonathan Edwards (from his sermon “God Glorified in the Works of Redemption, by the Greatness of Man’s Dependence upon Him, in the Whole of It )