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Ambrose as Pastor

In Augustine’s Confessions his description of Ambrose as a pastor is instructive.  He mentions how Ambrose is taken up with ministering to the needs of his people (“to whose infirmities he devoted himself”) and then stealing time for study (Book 6.3).  His first mention of Ambrose’s labors provides a model portrait for pastors:

And to Milan I came, to Ambrose the bishop, … thy devoted servant. His eloquent discourse in those times abundantly provided thy people with the flour of thy wheat, the gladness of thy oil, and the sober intoxication of thy wine.  To him I was led by thee without my knowledge, that by him I might be led to thee in full knowledge. That man of God received me as a father would, and welcomed my coming as a good bishop should. And I began to love him, of course, not at the first as a teacher of the truth, for I had entirely despaired of finding that in thy Church–but as a friendly man. And I studiously listened to him–though not with the right motive–as he preached to the people. (5.13, Outler’s trans.)

May we, like Ambrose of old, receive people as a “father” and a “friendly man”, thus winning a hearing for the truth we teach as we abundantly provide God’s people with the nourishment of His word.

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