One assignment among the many has been to read and review Richard Baxter's The Reformed Pastor. In it, there was a small section on the privileges of the ministry, which I think will serve both me and my seminary brothers -- along with all who are weary in the task of some sort of pastoral ministry -- to put away all complaining, to recognize how graced we are with such business, and to labor diligently and happily in the glorious work for which God has called and equipped us.
To my TMS brethren: Be encouraged men. You're studying at the best place in the world to study, and there are thousands of men who dream of being so buried under theological dictionaries and research papers as we are. Let Baxter bring you back to reality:
Is it nothing to be brought up to learning, when others are brought up to the cart and plough? and to be furnished with so much delightful knowledge, when the world lieth in ignorance? Is it nothing to converse with learned men, and to talk of high and glorious things, when others must converse with almost none but the most vulgar and illiterate?
But especially, what an excellent privilege is it, to live in studying and preaching Christ! to be continually searching into His mysteries, or feeding on them! to be daily employed in the consideration of the blessed nature, works, and ways of God! Others are glad of the leisure of the Lord's day, and now and then of an hour besides, when they can lay hold upon it. But we may keep a continual Sabbath. We may do almost nothing else, but study and talk of God and glory, and engage in acts of prayer and praise, and drink in His sacred, saving truths. Our employment is all high and spiritual. Whether we be alone, or in company, or business is for another world.
O that our hearts were but more tuned to this work! What a blessed, joyful life should we then live! How sweet would our study be to us! How pleasant the pulpit! And what delight would our conference about spiritual and eternal things afford us! To live among such excellent helps as our libraries afford, to have so many silent wise companions whenever we please -- all these, and many other similar privileges of the ministry, bespeak our unwearied diligence in the work.
May we press on, with attuned hearts, sweetened study, and unwearied diligence. And may we do it for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, ever striving to live in such a way to make His supreme worth manifest to all.
so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent,
children of God above reproach
in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you appear as lights in the world.
- Philippians 2:14 -
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence,
which has a great reward.
For you have need of endurance,
so that when you have done the will of God,
you may receive what was promised.
- Hebrews 10:35-36 -