One of the books from my dad’s library which I received after his death in 2007 was this one:
He had his assistant use this book to keep a personal record of the various aspects of his pastoral ministry through the years, starting with his ordination in 1950. There are 486 pages in the book, most of them filled out — pages and pages and pages recording weddings, baptisms, funerals, new members, sermons. For example, here are his sermons from March to October of 1963:
All in all, these pages record, one by one, over 1800 sermons during his ministry at Lake Avenue Congregational Church alone, and by no means a complete record even during those years.
How many hours of preparation and prayer and study are represented by this simple but eloquent written record, I wonder? Add to that the weddings, funerals, ordinations. Add to that the committee meetings, the personal evangelism and counseling, the social events. Add to that the seasons of strife and opposition which he had to endure, all the while keeping up the steady output of gospel ministry without being crushed. Add to that the way he came home every evening with something emotionally positive to give to the family. Add to that the fact that he not only came to all my high school football games but even to many practices during the week. Add to that . . . .
I am not impressed by young pastors who seem too eager to publish books and speak at big events and get noticed. They are doing the work of the Lord, and that’s good. But what impresses me is my dad’s daily slogging, year after year, in the power of the Spirit, with no big-deal-ness as the payoff.
This is the pastoral ministry that brings Jesus into the world today.