On the basis that pastors live and work under considerable pressure, this short and lucid book aims to offer them some of the help they so greatly need.
The authors are both Baptist pastors in Louisville, Kentucky. They write with concern for the wellbeing of the pastor. They argue that it is not uncommon for pastors to neglect their own souls either through the sheer demands of ministry or through wanting to avoid looking within themselves for fear of what they might or might not find.
The authors have concern that many pastors fail to ‘take [due] heed to themselves…’ (Acts 20:28) and so fail to fulfil their calling to effective pastoral ministry. They wish to prevent pastors from being mere performers and to protect them from crashing out of ministry.
The book challenges pastors to consider that the effectiveness of their ministry is dependent upon the care they give to their own souls. They believe that such care is dependent upon the biblical commands concerning a pastor, the pastoral call upon a pastor, the spiritual care of the pastor and finally, the physical care for a pastor.
Jim Savastio writes mainly upon topics 1 and 3, Brian Croft on topics 2 and 4. Each of the 4 main sections is subdivided into further sections (all helpful), presented in ‘bite-sized’ chunks. These are well illustrated and regularly applied. Clear appendices on taking sabbaticals and making good use of them are included. I particularly enjoyed the emphasis (rarely-sounded) on ‘strength in weakness’. The authors write in a clear, modest and gracious manner.
While making good use of historical works (Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor, Charles Bridges’ The Christian Ministry and Spurgeon’s Lectures to my Students), the book also utilises the works of various contemporary writers and summarises many of the themes found in all these works in a short but comprehensive compass.
Highly readable, this is a book which busy pastors can probably find time to read. Conrad Mbewe’s comment that, ‘Such a book should be read at least once a year by every pastor as an all-important health check’ is not unreasonable. This book will help busy pastors focus on things that really matter without them having to plough through the more demanding works.
If it has any significant weakness, it is in its lack of depth. Given the book’s parameters however, the authors do a good job of presenting so much within the scope of a short, introductory book.
This book stands as of great value to all elders and pastors and to all who have an interest in the work of Christian ministry. Warmly recommended.