Brothers we are not Professionals, John Piper, Broadman & Holman, 2002, 286 pgs.
Piper has a wonderful collection of articles from magazines that were written for church leaders. They are easy to read, and generally press in on the reader to evaluate and refine the character found within. This is a wonderful book of encouragement and challenge, wrapped up often times in the same paragraph!
“Beware of the Debtors Ethic” was a chapter that particularly struck me. The idea that often enters into the conversation of Christian life is that “the Christian life is pictured as an effort to pay back the debt we owe to God.”(pg34) What a fallacy, what a trap. People strive to find ways to pay back the free gift of salvation. The question that haunts me is … how much of that what I hear is due in part to my teaching, and my example of a life? The encouragement is that we do not owe anything for the free gift of salvation (yet we owe everything!), and the challenge is to fight this thought process to the bitter end!
Another chapter that worked me over was; “Don’t confuse uncertainty with humility”. In this section Piper really cut into me and my attitudes. He presented five points on humility;
– begins with a sense of subordination to God in Christ
– does not feel a right to better treatment than Jesus got.
– asserts truth not to bolster the ego with control or with triumphs in debate, but as service to Christ and love to the adversary.
– knows it is dependent on grace for all knowing, believing, living and acting.
– knows it is fallible and so considers criticism and learns from it, but it also knows that God has made provision for unshakable human conviction and that He calls us to persuade others.
Five simple points, and not one of them was a simple read for me … each one convicted, and at the same time spurs me on to walk out the privilege of pastoral leadership with greater humility!
“Tell them that copper will do” is the next chapter, and again it is a reading that causes discomfort. Here the root of my selfishness and greed was laid on the table. “God is not glorified when we keep for ourselves (not matter how thankfully) what we ought to be using to alleviate the misery of unevangelized and uneducated and unhoused and unfed millions” (pg 169). How often am I unwilling to give, to share the great gifts that God so graciously gives to me? Even worst yet how often do I grumble about the things that I do have?
But not every chapter was a hard reading on the areas I am lacking. “Read Christian biography” is a chapter that encourages the practise for reading the stories of those have gone before us. This I do as a practise, but again it is something that I can grow in, doing a better job of gleaning and implementing positivity habits into my life and ministry for the glory of God.
That is what this book is about; giving God glory as we work through whatever field He has placed us to plow! This is a great book, get a copy and take your time working through it, well worth the read!