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The Gravity of Pastoral Ministry

One thing Baxter does so well in The Reformed Pastor is to lay out the gravity of the task. Some of the student quotes in the previous post alluded to this. While I would also want to say the task is also a source of deep joy, this truth of the gravity of the task is so often overlooked.

I hope these quotes challenge us and convict us. Godly challenges like this expose our inadequacies. They may even chase away some who are not called of God to pastoral ministry. However, if the Lord has called you to this (and this is verified by the church), conviction from such statements should not lead us to being cast down, but lead us back to the throne of grace to receive help in time of need (Heb 4:16). These statements should, to use a Piper phrase, provide a withering blast on our pride and self sufficiency and cause us to see all the more our desperate need of the Lord’s provision. If this happens we will have been blessed.

“Oh, what qualifications are necessary for that man who has such a charge upon him as we have! How many difficulties in theology need to be understood! What fundamentals of the faith must of necessity be known! How many obscure texts of Scripture must be expounded! How many duties must be done, wherein we may fail if we do not understand clearly their character, their purpose, and their context! How many sins we need to avoid, which cannot be done without understanding and
How many sly and subtle temptations we need to expose before our people’s eyes – in order to escape them! How many weighty and intricate cases of conscience do we need almost daily to resolve! Can so much work, and such work as this, be done by raw, unqualified men?
What strongholds have we to batter down, and how may there are of them! What subtle, diligent, and obstinate resistance must we expect to deal with in every heart! How prejudice blocks our way in seeking to obtain a fair hearing! Often we are not disputing on equal terms, but with children who cannot understand us.” (29-30)

“O dear brothers, what men then should we be in skill, in resolution, and in unwearied diligence, that have all this to contend with and to do?” (30)

“So may I say to every minister, seeing how all these challenges lie upon us, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy endeavors and resolutions for our work!” (30)

“Do not your reason and conscience tell you that if you dare to venture on so high a work as this, you should spare no pains to be fitted to perform it? It is not now and then a random and idle exercise or taste of studies that will serve to make a sound man of God.” (31)

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