Recently I’ve been reading “The Reformed Pastor” by Richard Baxter. Baxter was an English Puritan minister in the 1600’s. “The Reformed Pastor” is a collection of writings that were sent to a group of ministers about the responsibilities of being a pastor. His writing is blunt, unfiltered, and (at times) a little bombastic. He doesn’t pull any punches. In this book he delivers gems like these:
“To bear with the vices of the ministry is to promote the ruin of the church; for what speedier way is there for the depraving and undoing of the people, than the depravity of their guides?”
“…if you will enter into the office of the ministry… so that by letting you alone in your sin, we must give up the Church to loss and hazard, blame us not if we talk to you more freely than you would have us to do.”
“One proud, surly, lordly word, one needless contention, one covetous action, may cut the throat of many a sermon, and blast the fruit of all that you have been doing.”
However, one of my favorites so far was a commentary about a minister’s unwillingness to give up some of his material comfort for the sake of the betterment of his church. He specifically addresses the all-too-common excuse that we don’t want our families to live in poverty. Baxter says:
“…it is inhuman cruelty to let souls go to hell, for fear my wife and children should fare somewhat the harder, or live at lower rates; when, according to God’s ordinary way of working by means, I might do much to prevent their misery, if I would but a little displease my flesh, which all, who are Christ’s, have crucified with its lusts?”
I’m sure my wife will be delighted to read that quote. (In all seriousness, though, I am incredibly fortunate to have a wife that will stand by me and my decision making… even if it does mean that we have to deny ourselves particular comforts.)
This book is extremely challenging. I think that anyone who may even think about becoming a minster of any sort should read it.