“Boy, you’ve got to read this book. It changed my life!”
We’ve all heard someone emphatically report on the quality of this or that book, and then encourage us to read it. But many of us internally squint in scepticism, because we know that cataclysmic, paradigm-shifting experiences are rare, and they depend on varying circumstances. Below, I suggest five books that may be helpful and encouraging for new pastors. The works reflect everything from pastoral life and spiritual formation to biblical interpretation, and they stimulate holistic exercise for spirit, mind, and body. Read one of them, or all of them. My prayer is that at the very least you are bolstered in your faith and vision in Christ and his ministry of reconciliation; at most, your life will explode into universe-altering insight. As lifelong learners, we pastors should read books that challenge our traditional opinions, encourage prayerful introspection, and establish healthy vision. Finally, all believers need moments of spiritual refreshment, and when we read someone else’s story of God’s working grace, we are uplifted. May the Lord grant you his peace, joy, and encouragement as you grow in him.
5 Books Every Pastor Should Read
The Pastor: a memoir
This world-renowned pastor, author, and scholar (translator of The Message Bible) writes an honest and compelling story of his life in ministry. He also assesses the current state of the role of “pastor,” and criticizes the church-as-business model of the Christian church.
All followers of Jesus are called to minister his grace to humanity. But when a follower of Jesus carries the title “pastor,” many times it takes on a sort of professionalism that veers him or her off the course of sincere faith and love in vulnerability before Christ and the congregation he or she serves. Nouwen exhorts us to know the Lord in his death and resurrection so that our preaching will flow from it.
John H. Walton
The Lost World of Genesis One
Walton (professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College) challenges his reader to examine ancient Near Eastern language and culture in order to better understand God’s message to Israel in Genesis 1. His refreshing analysis and biblical interpretation provide insightful ways to approach the origins debate.
Works of Love
A brother in faith from the 19th century, Kierkegaard wrote several deep philosophical works, but also some downright profound-to-the-core books about Christian living. One of them is Works of Love. He uncovers the power of God’s love at work in community, and inspires his reader to both faith and action.
Richard J. Foster
The Challenge of the Disciplined Life
(Previously published under Money, Sex, & Power)
Foster’s famous work provokes a sense of honest reflection regarding everything from financial ethics to transparent sexuality. He takes us on an introspective journey and discerning process to uncover our use and pursuit of power. Most importantly, Foster points us to service in Christ’s love, and a way to approach all of these subjects with a touch of his grace.
Flickr photo (cc) by dr_tr