I am reading John Piper’s Brothers, We Are Not Professionals in my spare time (!) and finding it quite a motivating read. One of the chapters is on the value for pastors of reading Christian biographies. Surprisingly, Piper recalls the effect of two sentences he read from a biography of Karl Barth, the neo-orthodox theologian (i.e. not evangelical!). Piper writes:
One was: “That evening Barth began [writing] a pamphlet which he finished the next day, a Sunday (13,000 words in a day!).” I responded, “If neo-orthodoxy merits such phenomenal labor, how much more evangelical theology!”
The other sentence was, “Barth retired from his chair in Basel in March 1962 and so lost the stimulus provided by the need to give lectures.” I wrote in the flap of the book, “Has greatness emerged from anything but pressure? If greatness is to be the servant of all, must we not be under authority, under demand, pushed, pressed?” (p. 92)
One would think that as evangelicals, as those who have received the greatest motive for service to the Lord, we would be the greatest examples of hard work and commitment to the cause of the gospel. Piper’s comments show that those with whom we disagree, at times profoundly, often show us up in our willingness to graft. Piper’s second point shows the kind of life the prospective pastor must expect.
Just as well Piper’s writing style inspires and encourages, or we might get a bit depressed!