Recently I received an email asking me to review the re-release of John Piper’s book Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. The new release being updated and expanded. I excitedly said yes. I am glad I did. About a week later I received my review copy in the mail and eagerly set out to read it.
The first edition of this book impacted me greatly when I was at a transition and crossroads in my career. At that point I was moving from full-time youth ministry to an itinerant speaking ministry that was bivocational in nature in that I was also working full-time in professional sales. As providence would have it I the reading of the new release finds me again at a pivotal point as I am now preparing to plant a church in my wife’s hometown.
Between my reading of the first and the second editions of this book, I worked in several professional sales and management positions as well as on staff of a church plant and as senior pastor of a traditional church in a community that was half small town rural and half big city bedroom community. I have seen many types and ways of ministry as well as risen the corporate ladder of success and learned to understand the ever increasing pressure to move the bottom line more and more.
I think all of this gives me a unique perspective with which to evaluate Piper’s claims in this book. He is right. 100 percent right. We, in the ministry, are not professionals. Our calling is unique. Our calling is not to climb the ladder of success but to faithfully minister to the people to whom God sends us.
I am not going to break down all 36 chapters of this book for you. You need to read them for yourself. I will simply say they are all hard hitting, impactful, and good; especially the chapter on race relations. If that chapter does not cause you to go to God in prayer to repent for personal and corporate sins then keep reading it and pray for God to convict you until it does; because I confidently say none of us are doing our best in that area, there is room for vast improvement with all of us.
What I do want to do though is share why I think this book is needed now as much or really even more than the first edition 10 years ago.
Recently, I read that 1 out of every 4 pastors has been fired or voted out of a church. 1 in 4. Twenty-five percent. But that does not include the ones where the pastor leaves before being voted out of their role. What would the inclusion of those cause the percentage to rise to? 50%? 75%? 90%? Higher? I cringe when I think of this.
This book addresses a lot of the issues that relate to why this occurs. We try to act like in a way that is not true our calling. We have done this for so long that our people expect this behavior from us at times. Certain churches start to get almost an inferiority complex that they are just a stepping stone for pastors moving on up to the big time. How utterly sick and wicked is that?
Ministry is not about climbing the corporate ladder and moving to the “big corner office with a view”. It is about faithfully executing the ministry of prayer and the Word in the context in which God has called us.
Can God call one individual to multiple contexts over a lifetime? Yes. Does He at times? Yes. Does he do this with everyone that He calls into ministry? Not at all.
So I encourage my brothers in the ministry to read this book. Drink deeply from the truths laid out in these 36 essays and examine if you are working to survive until the next, bigger and better church, or if you are striving to love and shepherd the flock well.
I received this book in from the publisher, B&H Books for the purpose of review with no requirement to write a positive review.