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Decades ago I offered a young pastor a box containing a number of excellent commentaries and books on the ministry. He politely declined, saying, “I don’t have time to read. Tragic. Time has suggested since then that he probably should have taken or made time to read. Competency and Excellency demands that a person be a lifelong student of their work or profession. And this is especially true where pastors are concerned.

Cicero wrote, “There are more men ennobled by study than by nature.” Cicero was a pagan, but he knew what he was talking about here. Pastors need to be the most “ennobled” and enabled men on earth. Why? Because theirs is the most important and consequential field of labor that exists on this planet, and warrants all of the reading, study and application a man can give to it.

Thankfully, many, and I hope most, preachers aren’t as complacent about their calling as my aforementioned young friend. I’m often asked to recommend books on the ministry. First on my list is, The Reformed Pastor, by Richard Baxter, which early on helped me form right ideas about, and gave me practical guidance for, the work of pastoral ministry. The Christian Ministry, by Charles Bridges is my second-most recommended book on ministry, followed by The Minister as Shepherd by Charles Jefferson and Lectures to my Students by Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Of course the best and most indispensable Book relative to ministry is the Bible. Many preachers haven’t read and don’t read many, if any, others books because of their lack of access to them. They’d have read and would read them if they could, but instead have become wise and competent pastors by making and taking time to saturate their minds and hearts in the Word of God and its teaching relative to the work of the ministry.

Bottom line: Men called to the ministry need to (and I believe in most cases will) do all they can, while they can, with what they have available to them. to be the best pastors that it is possible for them to be. Certainly, they will “give attention to reading” (1 Tim. 4:13).


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