Monday, September 15, 2008

grace at work

Right now I'm reading a book called Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor by D.A. Carson. It is his biography of his father, a pastor in French Canada from the 1940s to the 1980s. It may be a kind of odd read for my demographic, but I have been excited about this book since listening to Carson during this speaker panel from the Desiring God National conference in 2006.

As I was reading yesterday afternoon, it occurred to me that one benefit from reading a book that details a vocation different from yours is that it helps you to know how to pray for other people. That alone, I think, is reason enough to read a book like this: it may help you to pray for your pastor.

Then I came across this passage, which was a great help to me in thinking through some things. More than that, it magnifies one aspect of the beauty of the Gospel in the Christian life that I am prone to forget in favor of self-pity and despair:
So many aspects of ministry demand excellence, and there are not enough hours in the day to be excellent in all of them. When I was a young man, I heard D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones comment that he would not go across the street to hear himself preach. Now that I am close to the age he was when I heard him, I am beginning to understand. It is rare for me to finish a sermon without feeling somewhere between slightly discouraged and moderately depressed that I have not preached with more unction, that I have not articulated these glorious truths more powerfully and with greater insight, and so forth. But I cannot allow that to drive me to despair; rather, it must drive me to a greater grasp of the simple and profound truth that we preach and visit and serve under the gospel of grace, and God accepts us because of his Son. I must learn to accept myself not because of my putative successes but because of the merits of God's Son. The ministry is so open-ended that one never feels that all the possible work has been done, or done as well as one might like. There are always more people to visit, more studying to be done, more preparation to do. What Christians must do, what Christian leaders must do, is constantly remember that we serve our God and Maker and Redeemer under the gospel of grace.

D.A. Carson, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor (Crossway, 2008) 92-93

1 comment:

danay said...

So good! It's not about me, it's about the One I serve. Something to remember moment by moment. Thanks, Emily.