Have you ever learn an “if this is true…” e book? An “if this is true…” e book is one which challenges you so deeply that you simply understand that if what it’s saying is true, then you definately’ve received to make some main modifications to your life. R.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God is a kind of books—many who learn it all of a sudden realized they’d by no means truly identified God as he’s, because the God who’s thrice holy. Nancy Pearcey’s Whole Reality performed that function for some individuals, John Piper’s Brothers, We Are Not Professionals for others. Harold Senkbeil’s The Care of Souls suits nicely inside the “if this is true…” class. I imagine many pastors who learn it is going to understand that if what this e book says is true, they might have by no means really pastored earlier than. Many extra will understand that their pastoral aspirations have been all unsuitable. And it’s my hope that many learn it and permit themselves to be challenged by it.
Harold Senkbeil grew up a Minnesota farm boy, and was as stunned as anybody to search out himself veering into pastoral ministry. Now, after 5 many years on the process, he is able to inform a few of what he has realized alongside the way in which. He is able to share some classes on the pastoral craft. And what he needs pastors to think about is so quite simple: pastoral ministry is first about pastoring individuals. It’s first about being a shepherd to sheep. It’s not lower than expositional preaching and organizational management, the emphases of the good majority of pastoring books and conferences, however it’s so rather more. In actual fact, he would say that pastoring is a habitus, “a pastoral temperament or character worked by the Holy Spirit through his means.” By means of lengthy engagement in shepherding the flock over which the Spirit has made him overseer, “a genuinely pastoral demeanor and disposition grows within him.” He says, “There’s no substitute for practice when it comes to developing pastoral skills and aptitudes. As a pastor is actively engaged in visiting the sick, consoling the troubled, warning the hardened, and comforting the conscience-stricken, he learns to use the tools of his trade all the more skillfully and intelligently. Like any skilled artisan or craftsman, a pastor learns by both observation and doing. He learns his trade by practicing his craft. He is habituated—shaped and formed into a shepherd of souls—by being actively engaged in the work of shepherding.”
His nice emphasis, then, is the lengthy, tough, and essential work of shepherding souls. It’s being a minister of the Phrase of God by way of the appointed technique of God. However crucially, this Phrase-based ministry isn’t solely (or even perhaps primarily) achieved from the pulpit on Sunday mornings, however by way of a a lot wider and extra private ministry. “Do you see why I love the care of souls so much? To be able to bring them the one thing needful when all other things fade away, there’s nothing quite like it. To have something to give when everyone else stands by helplessly, to be able to say something of eternal significance when all other speech, however well-intended, rings hollow on the ear—this is an experience that humbles every pastor. But there too we have nothing to bring, you and I, that we ourselves have not first received. We are only errand boys for Jesus, emissaries of the one who bled and died to give his life that everyone in this dying world might find their life in him. When the sincerest human sentiments fall empty and hollow, we pastors have something solid and lasting to give.”
As he considers this Phrase-based ministry, Senkbeil locations nice emphasis on the attentive analysis and intentional remedy of the form of religious ills that befall God’s individuals, even rigorously laying out ten theses on the care of souls. “Week after week, day after day, these seemingly ordinary tasks of a pastor are extraordinarily rich in their impact: sinners are forgiven, saints restored, lives enriched and hearts consoled—all by your mouth and hands! The Spirit’s work continues through you daily and richly in his holy church. This may be routine, but it’s never boring.”
There’s a lot I can say to commend this e book and I’ll quickly give it my suggestion. However earlier than I try this, I really feel the necessity to level out that Senkbeil is Lutheran. This implies his ministry has taken place inside fairly a unique context than the Reformed Baptist church I name house and the broader Reformed world during which I spent most of my time. As I learn his work, I needed to do a good bit of “interpretation” based mostly on the variations in our traditions, particularly because it pertains to the function of the pastor. I’ve by no means forgiven anybody’s sins and by no means intend to; I don’t place fairly as heavy an emphasis on the sacraments; I’ll by no means pray with or earlier than a crucifix; and so forth. However regardless of the variations that replicate areas during which our theological traditions diverge, I discovered myself agreeing wholeheartedly with the center of the e book. In actual fact, I discovered myself remembering that Reformed and Lutheran Christians actually are post-Reformation “next of kin.”
There are some books I learn so I can evaluate them. There are some I learn as a result of I wish to profit from them. That is decidedly in that latter class. I learn it as a result of I wished to higher take care of the souls entrusted to me. With the creator’s assist, I imagine I can and can. This is among the finest books I’ve learn all 12 months; it’s among the finest books I’ve ever learn on the craft of pastoring. It’s one I gladly advocate to all of those that have been known as to be shepherds of God’s sheep. Might it remind us the entire sacred process God has entrusted to us.
(The Care of Souls is offered at Amazon and Westminster Books)