Last week I had the opportunity to sit in on a local pastors conference. The topic was the Resurrection of Christ. An appropriate topic for the week before Easter no doubt. I was encouraged and educated by the apologist who spoke with the local ministers. But I was also discouraged quite a bit by a few things. I don’t want to be a pessimist all the time. But I was just discouraged by some of the words of the local pastors. One was the sarcastic fear of the speakers latest book: a volume of 718 pages total. That is a large volume no doubt. But a reasonable read for men who boast with their Master’s and Doctoral degrees who have been entrusted with the souls of scores of the Good Shepherd’s sheep. I wish pastors weren’t afraid of reading. I don’t believe it to be a divine calling to immerse oneself in 700 page monographs hour after hour. But the minister of God should joyfully embrace the parchments and study to show themselves approved. The Lord has called us to love him with our minds and this calling is a high one for those who are Overseers.
Pastors, please don’t be afraid of books. Read for the sake of your sheep. Read for the sake of your family. Read for your own sake. Most importantly, read for the glory of God.
Besides the fear of big books from a room full of Baptist pastors. (I point that out on purpose. We Baptist can learn a lot from our Presbyterian Brethren when it comes to reading and writing. Working at a book store I find that the people who read the most tend to be Charismatics not Baptist. We’re people who love talking about ‘the Book’ but don’t read it or books about it often enough.) A retired minister was talking to me about the books that were at the conference when he said, “Good thing I’m a retired pastor I don’t have to read the hard stuff any more.”
That was like an emotional kick in the groin to a young guy like me. My heart just sank in sadness. I can’t imagine being allowed to live that long and serve in ministry for decades only to stop having a desire to read. Especially when your studies shouldn’t just be a means as to get puffed up, but as a means of worship and edification. At what point do we get so full of the knowledge of the glory of Christ that we just need to stop reading the hard stuff; especially if one still preaches/teaches the gospel as a retired minister? It just broke my heart to think being old and retired means retiring your mind to the worship of the Lord.
I know I’m not going to figure everything out in this lifetime, but I sure don’t want to give up on learning more and attempting to figure a lot more of it out. I’m going to spend a lot of time in a book with more than 700 pages time and time again. I’ll read some books of more than 700 pages from time to time. I’ll be sure to read many volumes that don’t come close to that number of pages. The subjects I’ll read might be easy, might be hard, some might prove valuable and other vanity. Nevertheless, I pray to God I never out grow my need to grow in the gospel, including the hard things therein.