Most pastors know when they enter the ministry that they will spend time helping others through times of suffering. What they usually do not realize, though, is that they too will suffer. Caught off guard, many of them end up deeply hurt and quit the ministry, deciding that perhaps they misunderstood God's call on their lives or that they simply do not have what it takes. But church history is filled with compelling stories of men who were profoundly afflicted while they carried out their ministry and yet persevered faithfully until death.
Now the editors of The Gospel Coalition have collected inspiring stories of twelve faithful men who endured great suffering for the cause of Christ. The stories of the apostle Paul, John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, John Bunyan, Wang Mindao, and others show that suffering in the context of ministry is expectedand it's never wasted. Pastors and ministry leaders, as well as those who support them, will find in this collection encouragement to run the race with endurance.
|Publisher:||Baker Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Collin Hansen, MDiv, serves as editorial director for The Gospel Coalition. He is the author of Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church, and Young, Restless, Reformed. He serves on the advisory board of Beeson Divinity School and as an elder at Redeemer Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
Jeff Robinson, PhD, is a senior editor for The Gospel Coalition. He serves as lead pastor of Christ Fellowship Church of Louisville, Kentucky, senior research and teaching associate for the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, and adjunct professor of church history at Southern Seminary. He is coauthor of To the Ends of the Earth: Calvin's Missional Vision and Legacy and coeditor of 15 Things Seminary Couldn't Teach Me.
Table of Contents
Foreword Ray Ortlund 11
1 Paul: Apostle of Pastoral Affliction Jeff Robinson 15
2 John Calvin (1509-64): Faithful in Exile W. Robert Godfrey Jeff Robinson 33
3 John Bunyan (1628-88): Faithful in Prison Tony Rose 47
4 Jonathan Edwards (1703-58): Faithful to the End Peter Beck 61
5 John Newton (1725-1807): Faithful amid Disappointment Tom Schwanda 75
6 Andrew Fuller (1754-1815): Faithful amid Heartbreak Steve Weaver 87
7 Charles Simeon (1759-1836): Faithful Shepherd to Hostile Sheep Randall J. Gruendyke 101
8 John Chavis (1763-1838): Faithful in the Face of Racism Darryl Williamson 113
9 C. H. Spurgeon (1834-92): Faithful in Sorrow Zack Eswine 127
10 J. C. Ryle (1816-1900): Faithful amid Personal Ruin Ben Rogers 139
11 Janani Luwum (1922-77): Faithful unto Death Dieudonné Tamfu 153
12 Wang Ming-Dao (1900-1991): Faithful amid Political Coercion John Gill 165
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Ministry professionals rarely lead with their weaknesses. We want church leaders with plenty of personality, charisma, and confidence. Missionary letters and reports may dip into Brené Brown vulnerability territory for a paragraph or two, but the overall theme is generally a litany of accomplishments and success stories. The 21st century church largely agrees that blessing and success are the measure of a person’s calling. Of course, we have a pretty way of defining “blessing,” and an even prettier way of judging anyone whose life does not exude the evidences of “blessing.” This is human nature, but it is ironic given the pattern established by apostles who commended one another to “share in suffering as a good solider of Christ Jesus.” (II Timothy 2:3) Church history trumpets the stories of saints who chose death over defection or endured unfathomable hardship in carrying out their calling. Editors Collin Hansen and Jeff Robinson have selected the stories of 12 Faithful Men: Portraits of Courageous Endurance in Pastoral Ministry in an effort to dismantle the cool factor that prevails in our view of ministry life. Beginning with the Apostle Paul, who knew well the sting of the lash and the sting of rejection, the record shows that those who have been profoundly used by God “to build the church suffered grinding affliction along the way.” It may surprise readers to learn that renowned preacher Charles Spurgeon suffered from depression or that Jonathan Edwards was ousted from an influential pulpit and spent the remainder of his ministry in the wilderness. John Newton composed Amazing Grace, but he also weathered financial distress and professional pettiness and politics in the pursuit of his calling. It turns out that many of the names we associate with great faith and “success” in ministry were plagued throughout their lives with criticism from their community (often from their own people!), chronic health concerns, or circumstances that were a continual source of mental anguish and despair. Grueling, Glorious Calling Historical heroes of the faith ministered in an era of high mortality rates among children, depressing statistics for women in child-bearing years, and the total absence of antibiotics and effective methods of pain relief. Add to this the challenges of ministry life, particularly in cultures where the gospel was not welcome, and it becomes clear that “the surpassing power belongs to God,” and His servants are merely fragile vessels with a powerful message. Fast forward a century or two, however, and statistics from The Gospel Coalition point to the sobering fact that “pastor suicides climbed 24 percent between 1999 and 2014.” (32) In spite of heightened awareness of mental illness and treatment options among the general population, pastors continue to be reluctant to share their own struggles with depression or doubt. Pray for Sanctified Courage Reading the stories of historical figures who loomed larger than life against a backdrop of persecution, jailing, pressure to compromise, and family drama has encouraged me to pray with greater wisdom for present-day ministry leaders. Family challenges may not include a small-pox epidemic, but parenting in the 21st century is not without peril. Add to this the pervasive consumer culture rampant within the church in which Christians “shop” churches for programs, sermons, decor, and a coffee menu that is tailored to their...continue reading at Living Our Days
I did receive this book at no charge from the publisher for my unbiased, honest opinion. Disclaimer: I am not this books target audience. The target audience for this book is specifically for pastors, deacons, or other (mostly male) heads of the church. Here after all heads of the church will be grouped together under the term Preacher. The book boils down to one main premise: that all preachers who are truly called to be servants of God as preachers tend to have a somewhat tragic life in some form or fashion. All of the biblical scriptures and each of the ’12 Faithful Men’ mentioned are examples to back this belief. He gives examples of how even in biblical times, the Apostle Paul had to experience tragedy, and how in many of Paul's letters, he mentions that to truly be a good teacher of God’s word then you would need to go through many tragedies not only to test your faithfulness but to be a better preacher. Paul (and thus the author) further explains that through these struggles, you will be able to better connect to your congregation as you will be more understanding and compassionate. His main biblical scripture he continues to draw from being Corinthians and more specifically 2 Corinthians, although he does utilize other passages as well to support his view. Further, he does give additional examples from other preachers to show the struggle of those called to serve, such as those, that like Paul, were also imprisoned for sharing the gospel, as well as personal tragedies, such as the loss of spouses, children, and other loved ones. He gives examples of those that have been pushed out of their congregations or due to circumstances, were forced to preach where they weren’t truly wanted, as well as, some that had their own personal, inner struggles. While I did feel that some of the stories could have definitely been shortened a bit and were only drawn out to give a bit of filler, overall it was a good book. I would definitely recommend this book to pastors, preachers, or other heads of the church, especially those new to the calling. Let me state that while I am not part of the target audience in this instance, I can appreciate the subject matter. There are several examples and scriptures mentioned that I can definitely see myself drawing back on during my own difficult times.