You Lift Me Up by Al Martin
Al Martin has been my mentor from a distance for many years. I listened to innumerable cassettes of his sermons when I was just converted in the late 1980′s, and when I entered the ministry in 1995, I devoured his pastoral theology lectures. Although I’ve continued to listen to his sermons on sermonaudio.com, I always wished he would write some books. Well, now, in the latter years of his ministry we are beginning to see the ripe fruit of decades in the pastorate appearing in print form. His latest book is Al Martin at his best, as he identifies three ministry challenges – ministerial backsliding, ministerial burnout, and credibility washout – and proposes various preventative and curative measures. As always with Pastor Martin, the book combines a deep spirituality with huge doses of common sense. I loved the sections on the pastor’s humanity and the need to care for our bodies. If pastors don’t read this now, they will need it later. This book is already available in the UK and will soon be available in the US.
The Pastor’s Justification by Jared Wilson
Jared has not been a pastor for quite as long as Pastor Martin – who has? – but has also written a book that will encourage many beat-up pastors. It’s less immediately practical than Al Martin’s book, but Jared’s aim is the long-term application of Gospel truths to the minister’s life and work. It continues in the rich vein of many Gospel-centered books that have come out over recent years, with this one being specifically focused on applying the Gospel to pastors. I especially enjoyed the biographical examples that helped demonstrate how Jared has practiced what he’s preaching in this book. If I was a discouraged and struggling pastor, I’d buy both of these books, Martin’s and Wilson’s, and read them together for a holistic approach to pastoral challenges. In fact, better still, buy them before you hit the wall.
A Labor of Love by Stephen Yuile
The puritan minister, George Swinnock, penned sixteen wishes, sixteen heartfelt desires for his own pastoral ministry. Stephen Yuile extracts the essence of these, sums them up in chapter headings such as “A Royal Ambassador,” “A Skilled Physician,” A Diligent Student,” etc., and expounds them over a few pages for a modern audience. He also includes a beautiful sermon by Swinnock on Acts 20, “The Pastor’s Farewell,” preached upon his departure from his own congregation. This is a more devotional book than the previous two, and would work well as part of a pastor’s daily devotional reading with each of the 16 chapters in part one being only a few pages in length.