Encouragement for today’s pastors
Joel Beeke & Terry Slachter
Reformation Heritage Books, 216 pages, £16.00
Star Rating : 4
Pastors (and others) are often in need of encouragement and this book will do just what it says on the cover — it will encourage you, and it will do so with the help of fine pastors from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
It will be most appreciated by those in gospel ministry (and, I suspect, their wives), though it can be read with profit, for encouragement, by all believers.
Joel Beeke and Terry Slachter have put together a very readable handbook in six parts, each addressing different areas of pastoral ministry and Christian life.
It is not a manual providing instruction on pastoral ministry. Instead, it addresses areas of life which are liable to lead to discouragement, challenge and difficulty, particularly for the pastor.
So, for example, the authors deal with the perennial problem of discouragement from lack of growth in numbers and apparently poor response to preaching. They do so by reminding us of God’s sovereignty and promises, and helpfully recalibrate our thinking to remember that faithfulness in fulfilling duties is what is primarily required of the Christian, whereas results and success (slippery concepts at best) lie in God’s hands.
We are warned against comparing ourselves with others and our ministries with theirs — counsel much needed in our celebrity-seeking age.
Among other subjects, the volume stimulates us to take God’s Word to our own hearts first and foremost, before seeking to apply it to others. It examines helpfully the vexed subject of the call to ministry. It underlines the central importance of doctrine and theology in pastoral work. It reminds us that we need to be always submissive to God’s will, even in times of grief and suffering.
The authors hold before us the privilege and immense reward of gospel ministry. All of this is supported by quotations from quite a wide range of Puritan writers.
Some quotations will be familiar to many, but others will be less well known. All are apposite. Easy answers are eschewed. The reality of the difficulty of pastoral ministry is faced and great help provided in this small volume.
London Theological Seminary