Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book Review: Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper

What is the nature of the vocation known as “pastor”?  While the pastoral calling has many facets and characteristics, one that John Piper adamantly believes should be avoided at all costs is the idea of pastor as a ministry professional.  This is the focal point around which the revised edition of his book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals  (Nashville: Crossway, 2013), revolves around.  While a pastor may possess a particular skill set Piper’s vision of ministry is more concerned with the primacy of serving as one called by God to minister among God’s people, reliant on God’s power rather  than anything else.

Piper draws from his 30+ years of pastoral ministry to offer encouragement and wisdom to all who are called to serve as pastors today.  He addresses matters of character, theology and culture, providing insights into ways in which the pastor needs to tend their own person in order to tend God’s people well.  The book is saturated with scripture, as Piper draws extensively from the Old and New Testaments to ground his lines of reasoning, as well as citing references from throughout the church’s history.

There are two issues that may dissuade certain readers from picking up this book and drawing from its wisdom.  One is that Piper is a Baptist, known for embracing a complentarian model of ministry, rather than an egalitarian one. While he uses the form “Brothers,…” as the title for each chapter I believe that the wisdom included in each chapter is of equal value for women serving in pastoral ministry.  Additionally, as a Baptist, he holds to baptism as an ordinance, rather than a sacrament.  As someone who fully embraces orthodox Reformed theology I found that Piper’s words on baptism could be used constructively not only in reference to baptism, but also within a covenantal understanding of the Lord’s Supper.

In the past few years I have read a few of Piper’s books and listened to him speak on several occasions.  His mantra, if you will, has been and remains, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”  In Brothers, We Are Not Professionals Piper ‘s overarching goal is for pastors to more fully pursue glorifying God in their personal lives and public ministries, so that those they minister among are enabled to do the same.  He accomplishes this purpose and I highly commend this book.

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