Nathan Schneider


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The Christian Minister

William Carey, the “father of modern missions,” on the nature of a ministerial calling. From An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens.

A Christian minister is a person who in a peculiar sense is not his own; he is the servant of God, and therefore ought to be wholly devoted to him. By entering on that sacred office he solemnly undertakes to be always engaged, as much as possible, in the Lord’s work, and not to chuse his own pleasure, or employment, or pursue the ministry as a something that is to subserve his own ends, or interests, or as a kind of bye-work. He engages to go where God pleases, and to do, or endure what he sees fit to command, or call him to, in the exercise of his function. He virtually bids farewell to friends, pleasures, and comforts, and stands in readiness to endure the greatest sufferings in the work of his Lord, and Master. It is inconsistent for ministers to please themselves with thoughts of a numerous auditory, cordial friends, a civilized country, legal protection, affluence, splendor, or even a competency. The flights, and hatred of men, and even pretended friends, gloomy prisons, and tortures, the society of barbarians of uncouth speech, miserable accommodations in wretched wildernesses, hunger, and thirst, nakedness, weariness, and painfulness, hard work, and but little worldly encouragement, should rather be the objects of their expectation.

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The Pastor and His Brokenness

The LORD spoke through the prophet Isaiah, “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (45:22). This is the simple message of salvation. Our hope is found in turning to God and His grace. He is our only hope and there is no other way to be saved from sin and it’s consequences. This is the simple message of salvation, but it’s also the message of the Christian life. We must constantly return to the cross of Christ, where we find grace and mercy.

God also works this message in and through the preacher of the Word. Charles Spurgeon preached:

We are made to see that the Lord is God, and that beside Him there is none else. Very frequently God teaches this to the minister, by leading him to see his own sinful nature. He will have such an insight into his own wicked and abominable heart, that he will feel as he comes up the pulpit stairs that he does not deserve so much as to sit in his pew, much less to preach to his fellows. Although we feel always joy in the declaration of God’s Word, yet we have known what it is to totter on the pulpit steps, under a sense that the cheif of sinners should scarcely be allowed to preach to others. Ah! beloved, I do not think he will be very successful as a minister who is not taken into the depths and blackness of his own soul, and made to exclaim, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

God reminds the preacher of his brokenness in order to humble him and keep him dependent on the only true worker of salvation, God Himself. Spurgeon would say that God also humbles the preacher through others:

If He does not deal with them personally, He raises up a host of enemies, that it may be seen that He is God, and God alone… If every one applauded, if all were gratified, we should think ourselves God; but, when they hiss and hoot, we turn to God, and cry, “If on my face, for thy dear name, shame and reproach should be, I’ll hail reproach and welcome shame, if thou’lt remember me.”