The Role of Parents in Preparing for the Ministry

Over the years, I’ve been collecting principles or maxims from the biographies of pastors, missionaries, and other Christian leaders. Some students have also contributed to my collection via various assignments and internships. Here are a few of the lessons we’ve gathered about the role of parents in preparing men for ministry, with the bold sentences being the major takeaways.

John Stott

Every man is to a great extent the product of his inheritance. The most formative influence on each of us has been our parentage and our home. Hence good biographies never begin with their subject but with his parents and probably his grandparents as well. (Dudley-Smith, John Stott)

C. H. Spurgeon

Wherever she (C.H. Spurgeon’s mother) has resided, she has been known and esteemed for her sincere piety, Christian humility, and various works of usefulness in connection with the cause of the Redeemer. The prayerful solicitude and earnest care with which she trained up her children have been abundantly rewarded. Speaking one day to her son Charles of her solicitude for the best interests of all her children, she said, “Ah, Charlie, I have often prayed that you might be saved, but never that you should become a Baptist.” To this Charles replied, “The Lord has answered your prayer with his usual bounty, and given you more than you asked.” (Shindler, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 19-20)

John Broadus

The significant accomplishments of John A. Broadus can in many ways be traced to the marvelous model and paternal love and wisdom provided by his father.  The presence of social, political, and religious leaders in the Broadus home greatly influenced John.  Major Broadus had offered much support to Thomas Jefferson in the development of the University of Virginia, with which his famous son was to be so long and intimately associated.  Broadus’s mother was a woman of godly character and a competence that admirably prepared her to be the wife of her notable husband and the mother of her remarkable children. (Dockery, John A. Broadus, 14)

Thomas Boston

It is the earliest reminiscence of the boy (Thomas Boston) that he was taken into prison with the father to relieve his loneliness.  The experience left a deep mark on the child’s memory, and he often rejoiced, in his mature years, that he had thus been honored to have fellowship with his father in his sufferings. (Thomson, Thomas Boston, 22)

John Paton

How much my father’s prayers at this time impressed me I can never explain, nor could any stranger understand. When, on his knees and all of us kneeling around him in Family Worship, he poured out his whole soul with tears for the conversion of the Heathen World to the service of Jesus, and for every personal and domestic need, we all felt as if in the presence of the living Saviour, and learned to know and love Him as our Divine Friend. As we rose from our knees, I used to look at the light on my father’s face, and wish I were like him in spirit, hoping that, in answer to his prayers, I might be privileged and prepared to carry the blessed Gospel to some portion of the Heathen World. (Paton, Missionary to New Hebrides, 21)

Herman Bavinck

“Her [Bavinck's mother Gesina] uncompromising ways when it came to Scripture became a characteristic that her son, Herman, learned very well from his mother. In short, Gesina was a spiritual asset to the entire Bavinck family.” (Gleason, Herman Bavinck, 17)

Gresham Machen

Arthur Machen’s tastes and interests, rooted in the classical tradition of the Old South, were decisive in defining his son’s interests. He read the works of Horace, Thucydides, and Caesar with pleasure and found personal inspiration in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament and the Greek New Testament… [This] nourished the hallmark of the legal mind, precise and logically consistent reasoning – a trait on which Arthur’s sons would later rely whether opposing Prohibition in Maryland politics or theological liberalism in the Presbyterian Church. (Hart, J. Gresham Machen, 12)

*Inclusion of a biography/leader does not mean endorsement of every aspect of their character, conduct, or teaching.

Why not think about how God has used your parents or grandparents to prepare you for your calling in life and thank God and them for it.

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When Do You Stop Counseling?
“As a pastor or counselor, how do you know when to stop counseling? As you try to decide whether or not to end counseling, you will probably be aware, with some uneasiness, that not every problem has been solved. You will sense the need for more growth or the person’s desire that counseling continue regularly. But these are not adequate reasons to perpetuate counseling. When to end counseling is always a judgment call that requires a lot of wisdom. The decision to bring the counseling process to a close is sometimes clear, but often not. It’s best to think through the decision to end counseling with some clear criteria. Consider two positive indicators, and four less pleasant ones.”

The Busy Critic and the Simple Church
“Honestly, when I think of people I look up to spiritually, they don’t seem frazzled. They are active, they accomplish things within the kingdom of God, but they aren’t overcommitted and in a frenzy of activity. In fact, they seem to know how to properly say “yes” and “no.”"

Piper’s Six-Stage Process for Writing Books
Always interesting to see behind the curtain of the sermon prep or writing process.

A Great Big List of Recommended Books
Tim Challies: “Here are 50 or 60 contemporary authors I’ve read and a book by each of them you may enjoy.”

Refreshing the Saints
“What am I to my brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus? Do I refresh or weary them? Do I give rest or restlessness? Am I a comfort or an anxiety? Do I encourage confidence or are people walking on egg shells around me? Am I blessing to those I am bound to in the gospel or a burden? Are the hearts of the saints being refreshed through me?”

You Must Disappoint Someone: How to Say No to Good Things
“Most of us would like to believe we say yes and no to our time commitments based on objective, logical assessments of what appears most important. But that is very often not the case. Very often we make these decisions based on subjective assessments of what we believe others will think of us if we do or don’t do them.”

One-on-One with Matt Perman on ‘How to Get Unstuck’
“By doing our work more effectively for Christ’s sake, we participate with God in his work to renew all things.”

Kindle Books

Christianity Considered: A Guide for Skeptics and Seekers by John M. Frame $5.99.

Chasing Contentment: Trusting God in a Discontented Age by Erik Raymond $2.99.

An Introduction to the New Testament by D. A. Carson and Douglas Moo $0.99.

Exploring the Bible: Expeditions 18 & 19

Sorry for not posting a video last week. I’ve posted two this week to catch up. If you want to bookmark a page where all the videos are posted, you can find them on my blog, on YouTube, or the Facebook page for Exploring the Bible.

If you haven’t started your kids on the book yet, you can begin anytime and use it with any Bible version. Here are some sample pages.

You can get it at RHBWestminster BooksCrossway, or Amazon. If you’re in Canada use Reformed Book Services. Some of these retailers have good discounts for bulk purchases by churches and schools.

Expedition 18: Songs about the Coming Kingdom

Expedition 19: A Fork in the Road

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Sorry things have been a bit slow on the blog the past few months. I’ve been working on a project that’s demanded almost all my time and energy. But I’m beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel and hope to return to more regular blogging soon. Thanks for your patience.

How to Incorporate Biblical Archaeology into Your Preaching
“In the final analysis, archaeology is an important supplement to preaching because it helps the person in the pew to see that the Bible is grounded in history. This is no small thing today since post-modernism dominates western society, and it is clearly ahistorical. History has little meaning to a large segment of western population, and so it is important for people to see that biblical events happened in time and space. These events are not mythic, mere folk-tales, or cute little Sunday school stories. Archaeology provides an earthiness to Scripture, and it helps to anchor the texts in the realia, that is, real and everyday life. Archaeology highlights the sitz im leben (“life setting”) of the narratives of Scripture.”

The Reading Habits Of Highly Successful People
“Some of the world’s highest achievers have one thing in common: it isn’t a high IQ, nor is it an incredible lucky streak, but their appreciation for reading. Books were their most profitable investment.

Open Both of God’s Books: Wisdom in His Word, Wisdom in His World
“One of the main reasons that we believe in a liberal arts education, where you read lots and lots of stuff outside the Bible, is because the Bible tells us to. The Bible tells us there are dimensions of wisdom to be found in the assiduous, penetrating, critical, biblical observation of the world — not only in the Bible.”

Anxiety and Depression: More College Students Seeking Help
“Between 2009 and 2015, the number of students visiting counseling centers increased by about 30% on average, while enrollment grew by less than 6%, the Center for Collegiate Mental Health found in a 2015 report. Students seeking help are increasingly likely to have attempted suicide or engaged in self-harm, the center found. In spring 2017, nearly 40% of college students said they had felt so depressed in the prior year that it was difficult for them to function, and 61% of students said they had “felt overwhelming anxiety” in the same time period, according to an American College Health Association survey of more than 63,000 students at 92 schools.”

Let Sinclair Ferguson Teach You Pastoral Ministry
“Here’s one way to think of Some Pastors and Teachers: What if you could take a seminary-level course in pastoral ministry from the Rev. Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson, for one academic year, with one lecture per week for 39 weeks, each one about an hour in length, for a mere $45…Who would not sign up for that course eagerly?”

What the Word of God Says About the Word of God, Book by Book | For The Church
“What God says about his word is a deep, complex, and staggering thing. And each book of the written word testifies to the wonder of his revelation. I decided to take a look, book by book, selecting a representative passage from each to highlight many of the things God’s word says about God’s words.”

Why Your Church Needs a Mental Health Inclusion Strategy
“The church is beginning to make significant strides in supporting church members and attendees with mental illness. The logical next step is to seek to welcome and include those for whom church participation has been difficult because of a mental health condition.”

50 Good Mental Health Habits
“My goal in this post is to identify goals for each area of life that influences mental health: cognitive perspective, physical well-being, social context, spiritual vitality, general life management, emotional regulation, etc.  Sometimes we need to be reminded that no one area of life can completely account for our mental health.”

Connecting with Your Introverted Teen
“At a recent conference I was urging fathers to press in and communicate with their children. One father asked, “How do I communicate with my 16 year old who is very introverted and doesn’t seem willing to talk?” Here are a few of the things to consider.”

Kindle Books

Check out: Seminary Edition

As another semester draws to a close, Seminary faculty, staff, and students, and also churches, have a bit more time to think about how best to deliver theological education and prepare students for the ministry. Here’s a collection of articles I’ve gathered over the past year that can hopefully provoke constructive conversations about the subject. I’m not saying that I agree with all the ideas discussed; simply that the ideas are worth discussing.

15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me

15 Things Seminary Teaches Me that My Busy Pastor(ate) Can’t

How Technology Is Revolutionizing Pastoral Training

Should You Pursue a Ph.D.?

The Big Thing Seminary Did Teach Me: I’ll Never Graduate from Learning

Pastoral Training Reinvented

Pastoral Training Is Changing

Why Don’t Schools Use The Most Effective Teaching Methods?

4 Reasons Why Maybe You Shouldn’t Choose a Seminary Church

How to Read Faster

Preparing for Winter

Sage Advice: The Teacher as Pastor

People Are Going to Hell. Do I Really Need Seminary Training?

Strategies for minimizing plagiarism (essay)

Teaching Students the Importance of Professionalism

6 Reasons to Take Seminary Chapel Seriously

A Professor’s Prayer from Matthew 23

“The Life of the Professor” — My Talking Points for our New Faculty Workshop

How To Survive Graduate School

Syllabus Strategies for a Successful Semester – Seminary Survival Guide

Seminaries across the country are shutting down

Higher Calling, Lower Wages: The Vanishing of the Middle-Class Clergy

Why Go to Seminary? Here’s Ten Reasons

Jealous for His Time: The Wife of a Seminarian

This Year’s Reminder That the Lecture is Not Dead 

The Lecture Lives. I Would Know — I’m a Professor

U Can’t Talk to Ur Professor Like This

The Future of Ministry, according to a Seminary President

Students learn more effectively from print textbooks than screens, study says

10 Things Teachers DID NOT Have to Deal With 10 Years Ago

More Or Less Technology In The Classroom? We’re Asking The Wrong Question

How the Reformation Changed Education Forever

10 Tips for Creating Effective Instructional Videos

Failure and Disappointment in Scripture

f we organized a conference on “Failure and Disappointment,” do you think anyone would come? If you wrote a book on that subject, do you think anyone would buy it? Failure and disappointment are not popular topics. They don’t sell tickets or books. They don’t generate clicks, as Internet marketers assure us. We don’t want to think about our own failures and disappointments, never mind hear about those of others. We live in a “success culture” that idolizes victory and fulfillment. But it’s all so unreal.

When we turn to the Bible, we’re given a deep dose of reality. Failure and disappointment are on just about every page. Whether we like it or not, that’s much truer to life than the success narratives that we aspire to and are trying to write for ourselves. By all means, aim high, but recognize that no one escapes failure and disappointment. So, we might as well plan on it and prepare for it with a view to profiting from it.

“Profiting from failure and disappointment? Are you serious?” Yes, like many of God’s people, I’ve found seasons of failure and disappointment to be some of the most spiritually productive times of my life.

Before we turn to the Bible to help us plan on, prepare for, and profit from failure and disappointment, we first need some definitions. Failure is a lack of success in doing something. It’s coming short of a performance standard that we have set for ourselves or that others have set for us. It may be something that we are accountable for and blamed for (e.g., we fail an exam because we did not study enough), or someone else may be to blame (e.g., our marriage may fail because our wife or husband committed adultery). And sometimes we can have a sense of failure when we have not actually failed (e.g., we lose our job because of a merger or reorganization). Disappointment is the sense of sadness and frustration that results from failure, either from our own failure, the failure of others, or both. So, with these definitions in hand, what does the Bible teach us about failure and disappointment?

Read the rest of this article at the Tabletalk website. You can also find many other articles from this month’s issue of Tabletalk.