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.

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18 thoughts on “Daily slogging in the power of the Spirit”

  1. Charlotte Ortlund Wells says:

    Thank you for this, Ray!

  2. Lauri Morrill says:

    Dear “Ray Jr.”…from an LACCer from the 1970s to 1982 and an SMCCer since then. I wrote this to Gavin this morning after he posted this article. Thought I’d write it to you too. I was struggling with heritage for 4 days and I am lifted up in this reflection and thoughts since then. Thank you. Here’s my first impression after reading your blog.

    “Amazing Grace on Display…Jesus in the flesh of one man, Ray Ortlund, who touched sooooo many of us…maybe by slogging, but I recall he radiated and soared through the dailys on Holy Spirit wings and a prayer without ceasing. Thank your Dad for sharing with you and us…He (your dad) is now a reflection of both his fathers…earthly and heavenly..through this sharing. .just as you are becoming, Gavin! We have an awesomely loving God. Your heritage encourages me! HE REIGNS ON HIGH and, PRAISE HIM, in our hearts if we let Him! Blessed!”

    Thank you for blessing me and I praise God for this hope and blessedness this morning. And forgiveness! In HIM and HIS Body, Love, Lauri

  3. This kind of faithfulness leaves a legacy in the lives that it touched and influenced…even to the third and fourth generation. In our roles as pastors/spiritual leaders we should seek to be faithful, not famous.

  4. Byron says:

    Ray, studying the apostle Paul’s letters to Timothy, my mind takes stock of people I have known who were consumed with Christ and committed to Christ’s cause like Paul – your dad comes to the forefront. I am blessed to have known him.

  5. Lynn Morrissey says:

    Ray, I loved seeing your dad’s book and all you said here. I had the privilege of being a “slog-ee” of both your father and mother and in their home in 2004. They were doing renewal days, and I had long been a reader of their books. I met in them a married couple who were tenderly in love, down to earth, steeped in Scripture (and living it), and very kind to someone (me!) whom they really didn’t know–though Anne and I had exchanged some letters. I can’t begin to tell you what a profound differerence slogging with them through Scripture made for those two days of my life (I was mentored mostly by your mother, but your father played a part). I saw before me two Christians by then who were well-known authors and speakers and who might have had much differnt attitudes. But they were truly humble. I was so very sorry to learn when Ray had passed away in 2007, but rejoice in this loving legacy he has left not just you, but his grandchildren (and I daresay great-grandchildren too). And my daughter is now a part of that living slogging legacy! Your Gavin was her Bible teacher/tutor, whom we hired when her own Bible teacher was showing raunchy movies in Bible class in high school. We pulled her from the class and hired Gavin…….what a gracious, intelligent, and passionate young man (I read his wonderful blog now too)! Anyway, just as Anne and Ray affected me, Gavin affected Sheridan. So hat’s off and praise God for your stellar slogger of a Dad who set the course that you all now are slogging along!
    Fondly,
    Lynn

  6. David says:

    A-Freaking-men!

  7. Amen. The thought that came to me after reading this is “seek to be faithful, not fameous”. As a young pastor, this seems so daunting, but as I look at the legacy of slogging, I am reminded that this is where the real action is, rather than on center stage at a conference.

  8. Bob Towell says:

    Dear Ray,

    Joyce and I still occasionally refer to the fond memories and influence that your mom and dad had on us while we were in seminary and at LACC (’78-’80). Even before that, Ray’s book, “Lord, Make My Life a Miracle”, was a game changer for us. We still have many of their books in our library and refer to them often. Just this week as we were digging through some memorabilia, we were surprised to find our cassette tape recording (remember those?) of Ray dedicating our first child. He undoubtedly christened and dedicated hundreds of babies. But the fact that Ray was the pastor that dedicated our first child holds such a special place in our hearts. He may not have recorded it in his Pastoral Record, but we will always remember it. Their influence on our lives after 40 years of pastoral ministry remains. Thank God for Ray and Anne, his faithful servants. Lord Jesus, give your Church more like them!

  9. Great post! Thank you.

  10. Jeff Malin says:

    I can’t tell you how encouraging it was for me to just read this short blog. I have been “slogging” in full time ministry for 12 years and there are many days when I have felt as though I would be crushed, including recent days. God’s sustaining grace is becoming more and more precious to me all of the time. Thank you for posting this!

  11. Ray Ortlund says:

    Thank you, friends, for your very kind thoughts and words!

  12. Jeremy says:

    Awesome. Simply awesome. Thanks for sharing this Ray. I need this…every moment.

  13. Jane says:

    That’s a great post. Very helpful.

  14. Charlie Moulton says:

    How beautiful to see a sons love and admiration for his father. My faith has been encouraged a great deal by the entire Ortlund family.

  15. “Slogging”. Great word. We are a culture infatuated with glam to the neglect of our souls.

  16. Chris Z says:

    Great perspective. We “young guys” need to hear this more often.

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Ray Ortlund


Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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