We all have heroes in ministry. In fact they might be a major reason we entered ministry in the first place. We may not have imagined ourselves as the next Calvin, Luther, or Spurgeon. But we wanted to be used by God to build his church as they did.

The reality of ministry proves quite different, though, than what we expected. We’re not treated like the next Calvin or Luther or Spurgeon. We’re ordinary sinners saved by grace in the middle of our own sanctification even as we trust the Spirit to work through us in leading God’s people. We sin against others, and they sin against us. We see miracles even as we endure suffering ourselves and also in those we love.

Was it actually any different for our heroes? Not at all, actually. They were opposed. They were acquainted with grief. They were sometimes jailed and even killed for their faith. Should we expect anything else ourselves? What about the example of our crucified Savior?

Zack Eswine has written about Spurgeon’s sorrows and has also contributed a chapter to TGC’s new book, 12 Faithful Men: Portraits of Courageous Endurance in Pastoral Ministry, edited by Jeff Robinson and me, and published by Baker Books. He joined me on this episode of The Gospel Coalition Podcast to discuss how Spurgeon was faithful in grief and how suffering with courage shapes a pastor for ministry.