In case you missed it, here is my guest blog over at The Middle Years Ministry. Check it out!
Grandpa Wiersbe. You can imagine the words of this book coming from a grandpa, giving their grandson advice about ministry. Maybe I think that because both my grandpa and my wife’s grandpa were in ministry for decades. The advice is not in a condescending tone, but come across as loving and caring. You want to get to the page to learn more, like you are sitting on your grandpa’s proverbial knee.
Quotes For Days. This man has a quote for everything, and each one is dynamite. Seriously, how does he do it? Wiersbe doesn’t just reference one or two servant books and take some nuggets to build on. No, he grabs quotes from deep in history, professors, old preachers, and the list goes on. No stone was left unturned to drive the point home.
Ministry A to Z. This is like the Amazon logo of ministry books. It takes you from A to Z of every aspect of ministry. Both practical aspects of ministry and also the personal/spiritual side as well. Such wisdom in these pages from a man who has lived it.
Nada. Nothing bad to report.
The Grade: A+. This book will be on my “read again and again and again” list. OK, I don’t really have that list, but if I did, this book would be at or near the top. So much wisdom and practicality to this book, where it walks alongside you in ministry and drops truth bombs on every aspect of your life. It is a must read for all those that are going into ministry, non-negotiable.
How’s that for an introduction. Wow! What an introduction. A biblical survey of shepherding can be found on the opening pages of this book. It certainly sets the stage for the rest of the book.
Can you hear me church? The author does an incredible job at holding the local church accountable in the process to training those who are called to ministry. Also, it does not tip toe around the necessity of protecting the church from those who do not qualify for these positions as well. I appreciate how this book upholds the church’s responsibility.
Do I need my appendix? Well, your body might not need your appendix, but your church body might need this book’s appendix. Don’t skip over the valuable preparatory material found in the back of this book. It will be quite valuable for the training and confirming of one’s call.
Could you be more specific? If you are looking how to conduct a youth internship, children’s ministry intern, or a more specific role…you will not find those specifics here. This book is not very big and it paints a broader stroke in training those in ministry. Not necessarily a bad thing, but something I wanted to warn the reader.
The Grade: B+. I wouldn’t call it earth-shattering, but I certainly would call it effective. It puts the local church’s feet to the fire, so to speak. It is a challenge to the church to do its job in training and sending people into full-time ministry, all while confirming the call. This is serious business, and I appreciate how this book treats it as such and provides an effective way of making the calling sure.
You Talking to Me. What an easy read. Seriously, it is like having a conversation with the author. I’m a big fan of books that are written in a laid-back conversational style. If I read a book about pastoral calling, I would hope it would speak to me. Well, the author’s style does just that – it is like you are being counseled in the chair across from him, and he speaks right to you and your heart.
Dry as a bone. For those that know me, I enjoy dry humor. And this book caused me to laugh out loud at times with the witty jabs that you almost miss, but add life to the book. These little comments and stories provide great flavor to a very meaty subject.
Paging all church search committees. This isn’t just a book for those seeking confirmation of the call, but can be highly useful for pastoral search committees and church boards establishing their philosophy of ministry. What a lesson on the requirements of a pastor, in behavior, practice, and lifestyle. Before writing a job description, you might want to read this book.
Better Sooner than Later. Seriously, this may sound sappy, but the only bad thing about this book is that I did not read it sooner. It satisfied the reader’s longing to understand and confirm the calling. It answers the question “Am I Called” to completion, with great detail, confidence, and sound doctrine.
The Grade: A. Got someone interested in ministry? Put this book in their hands. Think about it. We are talking about the calling to lead the body of Christ…the bride of the Savior of the world. Before any seminary applications, job interviews, internships…read this book. Start here. Seriously, it puts the pastoral call to the test. Better to test your calling with a hot chocolate, bedroom slippers, and this book…than when you are knee-deep in ministry! Buy the book, and make your calling sure.
Book Review: Biblical Stewardship by Alfred Martin
If you have your Bible…This is about as Biblical as a book can be. Scripture is interwoven throughout the pages of this book, and nary was a point made without a Bible verse in support (Did I hear a “nary” in there?).
Wide Focus Lens. Sometimes the concept of stewardship uses too narrow of a lens. What I mean is, when stewardship is mentioned, money is the only thing that is discussed. Well, Martin takes a different approach and discussed how stewardship is a whole-life behavior.
Class Dismissed. This was like taking a seminary level class on the subject of stewardship. The concept of stewardship is so important, and this in-depth look on this lifestyle was enlightening.
Absolutely absolute. On rare occasion, I did catch some absolutes or some verbiage that was a little too strong or dogmatic. It was rare, but still need to be cautious in your read. For example, there was the thought of never saying anything to another Christian about how they spend their time, lest you judge. My response would be, “What if their time is spent in sin?”
Good Morning Class. The flip side of this book being more academic is it sometimes felt that way. With a quiz booklet attached, I felt like I was focused more on studying for a pop quiz than remembering and meditating on key concepts.
The Grade: B. You may not label this book as earth-shattering, but it does still have value. Many pastors do series on stewardship yearly or often, and this would be a good buy for that purpose. It also is a smart read for those early in their marriage or early in the faith as they can properly learn to use what God has given them properly, even their lives.
This past Sunday, I had the privilege of baptizing my baby girl. Well, she is seven (and a half, as she would say), so not so much a baby anymore. But being my first daughter, I often call her my baby girl. Baptizing my sweet little girl is an incredible perk of being a youth pastor, along with leftover pizza from youth nights. But just how special was this event in my daughter’s life?
Could I dare say that this day was even more special than my daughter’s wedding day? I believe so. And here’s why. When my daughter was baptized, she was telling everyone she wanted to follow Jesus, and be identified as a follower of Christ. If/When she gets married, while it will be a tremendously joyous occasion, she is telling everyone in that room she will be following her husband in her marriage. See the difference?
Let me break it down a little further here. My ultimate goal as a parent is not to prepare my daughter to marry a nice, godly man. Sure, I pray for that regularly, but my ultimate goal is to prepare my daughter for a life lived for her Savior, Jesus Christ. And seeing my daughter in that white robe committing herself to Jesus overshadows seeing my daughter in a white dress committing herself to a man.
And maybe I should say it like this. I want my kids to be more excited about Jesus than they are about anything. And I should reflect that to my children. So accepting Jesus Christ should be celebrated more than high school graduation. Being baptized and committing to follow Christ should be more precious than winning the high school championship in __________, you will in the blank. You get what I am saying here?
Maybe it is time we take our kids out to dinner to celebrate their spiritual birthdays. Or make sure to invite as many family members as you can to come to their baptism. Mission trips, Christian camps, and enriching conferences should have a place in our budget over cell phones, new shoes for school, and violin lessons. Our desire to get our kids ready to go to church, should resemble the fervor with which we scramble and drive like crazy people to get to work on time.
Sure, the title of this blog was a little bit of shock value. But maybe we need a little shock to the heart to bring our priorities back in order. After all, it was Jesus that said in Luke 9:23-25:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
You need this. As someone in ministry, the introduction wakes you up and sets up the need to read this book. Let me just save you the time from reading the introduction, because I know many of you will skip it anyway, and just know there is reason for every pastor, missionary, or anyone in a ministry…you need to read this book.
Transparency. When an author shows transparency appropriately, it brings the book to life, in my opinion. The author is willing to show his weaknesses and mistakes made in the past to bring a more personal touch and more valuable for the reader.
Short & Sweet. I love short chapters. As a father of many kids, I have like 3 or 4 kids now (kidding, kidding)…but sometimes I get interrupted in my reading and thoughts and momentum of the read can get disjointed. This book provides short chapters that pack a punch. Plus, if these chapters were longer, I honestly think you’d walk away from the chapter like you were just in a heavyweight fight. Great, challenging content in every chapter.
41 Chapters…There’s One for You. Seriously, if you cannot find one chapter out of the forty-one chapters, you must have reached sainthood or just are too proud to admit your flaws. Everyone in ministry will be able to find something they need improvement. Plus, each chapter provides reflection questions to help you get started on your self-improvement.
Repetitive Beginning. For some reason, the first four chapters seem to repeat the same thought over and over. Not sure why. But, for what it’s worth, it is a very good thought!
Missing Verses. If you’ve read my blogs before, writers should include references when they are quoting the Bible. Do I need to start a petition?
Too Honest? For me, as a reader, I enjoy the honesty of the author. Some readers may be turned off by the honesty and personal stories. This may be less of a bad thing, but more of a toss-up depending on the reader.
The Grade: A. Pastors, buy this. Church people, buy this for your pastor. For someone in ministry, it is a refreshing read. It will save you from years of trouble and burnout down the road, and improve the ministry you are currently serving. This book came strongly recommended from a missionary friend to my pastor, and he liked it so much he bought me a copy. So what does that tell you?
12 Things Good Preachers Do well
So if this was a checklist, how many of these things do you do well? What do you need to work on? If you’re like me, you have some things to work on. May God bless you as you pursue to improve your ministry to others!
(Credit: Conclusion of Excellence in Preaching by Simon Vibert)
Let me set this up for you, and I’ll try to do this quickly, since most of you probably will be skipping this intro anyway, and just skimming down to the bold list below. Hey, I read blogs too, I’m not offended.
So, here is the breakdown of the story found in John 13:1-20. Jesus begins to wash the feet of the disciples. Peter refused to be washed by His Savior. Jesus calms Him down, and ends up washed all of the disciples feet (yes, if you know the story of Jesus, that includes the one that would betray Him).
What does this story have to do with leadership? Well, I am glad you asked. Goodness, that was corny, but I’m still writing, and unwilling to push backspace. Okay, no more waiting, here is the list of leadership principles in Jesus washing feet:
Humility. This was is pretty obvious, but it can’t be skipped over. As the ultimate leader, Jesus was willing to do tasks that usually given to servants in the household. Jesus was willing to clean the filthy feet of those that were about to scatter, abandon, and even betray him. That takes it to a new level. Talk about humility. Jesus was going to receive nothing in this exchange, except rejection.
Service. No act of service was beneath Jesus. He was willing to wash filthy feet, and he was willing to give His life. In terms of being a leader, nothing should be beneath us in service of God and others. As a pastor, there may not be someone around to plunge the toilet. As a youth leader, you may have to mop up the vomit. As a servant in God’s kingdom, you may have to out of your comfort zone for the Gospel to be heard. Don’t let any service for others, and especially God be beneath you.
Vision. This was a brilliant move by our Savior. Jesus was giving a powerful illustration of what He wanted from his followers. Jesus, by humbly serving His disciples, was teaching the men, who Jesus would leave the Gospel message in their hands, how to be a leader. He taught them they were not above the message or the subject of the message (verse 16). Christ saw this as an opportunity to show how them an example of true humble service. Serve God and others humbly, never thinking more of yourself. Jesus said if He is willing to do this, as Lord, you should be willing to do it for others.
Humility. Service. Vision. Want to be a leader? I’d say these three things would be a good place to start.