I am enjoying reading R W Dale’s biography of John Angell James, which can be found on Google Books. It is a mix of James’s own memoirs interspersed with editorial comment from Dale, his successor at Carrs Lane. The style is a little stodgy as one might expect for early 19th century writing but James himself I find very engaging, not least because of the awareness he had of his limitations as a minister of the gospel. Many of us can identify with that!
James entered his ministry in Birmingham in 1806 with a great sense if joy and anticipation with a congregation of 100+ in a building designed for 800. However, the first few years were hard labour with little fruit, the church growing only modestly. It caused him to question his own ministry. James, looking back at that gloomy period, wrote:
“I believe that had any offer of another situation been made at that time, I should have been strongly tempted to accept it. Against this, however, my wife, who knew the bias of my mind, firmly set herself, and used to say to me, “Never leave Birmingham till you see your way out of it as clearly as you did into it.” Her advice was sound and good, and shews the vast importance of a minister’s having for a wife one who can be a counseller as well as a comforter.”
How important it is to marry well in the ministry (or anywhere else for that matter!)
“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” (Proverbs 31:10).
I am glad that God has given me Susan who, amongst many other things, is a superb counsellor.