One of the books from my dad’s library that I received after his death in 2007 was this one:
Dad’s assistant used this book to keep a 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, funerals, baptisms, new members, sermons. For example, here are his sermons from March to October 1963:
These pages record, one by one, more than 1,800 sermons preached 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 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 build “a platform.” They are doing the work of the Lord, which is good. But I’m not impressed. 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 goal or the payoff.
This is the pastoral ministry that brings Jesus into the world today, and it takes a lifetime to develop.