Following the Leader: When You Should Get Help

This morning I read Exodus chapter 18 for my devotions. I love the book because I am very much like Moses. Neither one of us really desire to speak in front of people (Ex. 4.10, while I love preaching and teaching, and the Lord has greatly helped me, I still get so nervous and feel inadequate). We both have some anger problems (Ex. 16.20; 32.19-20). And one last thing is that we both try to do things alone (Ex. 19.13).

 Moses was attempting to make decisions for the entire nation. He would be at it from morning until evening, literally all day. Can you imagine how tiring this would be?

And yet, you and I try and do many things on our own. We try and lead a good life, we try to succeed at work, we try to do really well in school, raise kids, keep a house clean, and the list could go on forever.

We, like Moses, must have this odd belief that we are the only ones that can accomplish certain tasks, do certain things, and say what needs to be said. But we were never meant to do things alone. When God created us He created us to be with Him and with others (see Genesis 2.18-25). We need help, as Moses needed help! Jethro offered Moses incredible advice and when Moses followed through magnificent things began to happen. He was resting! And one of the benefits of us enlisting help is that we rest.

Another amazing consequence of getting people to help is that it allows them to use their gifts, callings, and abilities to help someone else. We are a community, and as such we are able to help and to be helped. 

I hope that we, like Moses, have Jethros in our lives to help give us sage advice. And I also hope that we actually take the advice.

“What you are doing is not good. You and the people will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you.” Jethro

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Be You. Do Good. A Review.

Be You. Do Good.

A Review

I was privileged to receive an advanced copy of Jonathan Golden’s new book, Be You. Do Good. The subtitle, “Having the Guts to Pursue What Makes You Come Alive”, really captures what Golden is attempting to help his readers accomplish.

I love reading. I love reading academic books that help grow my intellectual capacity. I also love reading books that have soul. By this I mean the author communicates his passion, his story, his very life. Very few books do this; Jonathan Golden’s book does.

His twelve steps function as the chapters of his book. Each chapter weaves part of his own amazing story of founding the coffee company Land of a Thousand Hills and how he implemented each step. He also includes stories of different clients, parishioners, and family members that connects the academic side (the twelve steps) with the practical side (the life and call of people).

The introduction contains three sentences that convey the heart and the power of this work:

  1. “God calls us to himself”
  2. “God calls us to be ourselves”
  3. “God calls us to do good”[1]

These thoughts are quite amazing when examined in their own right. But they are the spring board that catapults the reader on a wild ride.

Rather than working through the entire book, I want to offer some highlights that were personally inspiring to me. I hope they inspire you, and I hope you purchase the book for yourself!

 

Personal Highlights

 

In chapter one Golden deals with some myths that plague people from finding and doing their calling. The first myth is one that I have personally struggled with and one that Golden captures perfectly. He writes, “If you try to find all of your meaning or purpose in something you do from 9:00 until 5:00, you’ll be disappointed….We need to remember that our life’s work is more than our job. One’s calling is more than what one gets paid to do.”[2] So often we get caught up in what we do (a fast food job, retail work, etc.) that we forget that it isn’t our calling, and it definitely does not represent us.

In another chapter Golden brings up the idea that our lives, “our stories”, are used by God for a purpose. In contrast to the thought that God is not interested in our day-to-day lives, Golden builds on the fact that God is incredibly interested in our lives and desires to use our different backgrounds, experiences, failures and successes to do good.[3]

It’s hard to focus on only a few aspects of the book, but I must limit it a little! One idea that Golden addresses is the fact of God’s will. One only need browse the Christian bookstore or search the web and countless works, sermons, and all kinds of different communications will come up. Some people think it’s difficult to find, but as Golden writes, “I want to suggest that God is much more gracious than that. God is not interested in hiding anything from you.”[4]

Another thing that stuck out to me is the Scripture Golden uses. Some works can overload the reader with thousands of references, bogging them down by endless page turning. This is sometimes necessary (in systematic theologies, for instance). But for people wanting to seek God’s call and accomplish it in their lives, a few verses suffice. Golden does an excellent job of incorporating incredibly pertinent passages that illustrate the point he is drawing out. And then he provides his own story to flesh out the skeletal system of Scripture.

A Book Worth Reading

I underline when I read. And when I say I underline, I mean I underline. If it is a good thought, a challenging quote, or something that inspires me, I underline it. After a few pages into the book, I had to stop. It is one of those books that you just read. There is no need to underline because it’s all good. Are you struggling with your calling? Do you sense God leading you into a certain direction, but aren’t sure how to get there? Then this book is for you. Are you confused as to why God gave you certain desires and different goals, accomplishments, and failures? Then this book is for you. Are you adventurous and want to start that next exciting journey? That’s right. This book is for you.

Jonathan Golden did an excellent job writing this book. I hope that you purchase it and let it inspire you, as it did me.

You can purchase it here on January 19th!

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/be-you-do-good/375530

[1] Jonathan David Golden, Be You. Do Good. (Grand Rapids, BakerBooks: 2016), 16.

[2] Golden, Be You. Do Good., 26-27.

[3] It is quite a fascinating story. It is on pages 33-34.

[4] Golden, Be You. Do Good., 114.

“Preparation for Ministry”: An Effective Little Book

  
My wife purchased several books for me for Christmas. I love books! No matter what the occasion, if one were to ask me, “What can I get you?” My reply is always, “Books!” But I also like specific books. I thoroughly enjoy theological books, church history, but also practical books. I received several books on youth ministry and communication, but along with these practical works Hannah gave me the book titled, “Preparation for Ministry”. It is written by Allan Harman, a pastor and professor. 

First Thoughts

My first thoughts regarding the work is that it would be more substantial. The actual work only covers 43 pages, but to my surprise the conciseness turned out to be a strength. More on that to come.

My second thought is that, because it is written from a Reformed tradition, that it would be incredibly strict concerning its applicational thoughts to ministry. Again, the book greatly surprised me.

The third thought I had when perusing the table of contents was that more than half the book was focused on sermon preparation and an address by B B Warfield. While I am still sightly disappointed with the length, the benefits of the appendixes are worth purchasing the book.

A Brief Breakdown of the Strengths

As I promised, the conciseness of the book turned out to be a great strength. As a minister (praise God!), a seminary graduate, and a lover of knowledge, I tend to enjoy rich and challenging theological works. If a book has a bibliography of 15-20 pages, then I get excited! So when I received the book and saw the size of it, I was disappointed. However, upon reading the work I was pleasantly shocked that the length did not impugn upon the content. Rather, it fortified it. Granted, this is not (nor does it claim to be) a work of thorough scholarship. It is a book concerned with “a call to ministry, theological training, and entry into pastoral work.” (vii) The length makes it an excellent tool to pass on to young people dealing with the question of a call to ministry. Additionally, it makes for a great tool for small groups to discuss, especially in the presence of a current minister.

Another strength that comes from this work is that is weds intellectual study with spiritual vitality. The address by Warfield entitled, “The Religious Life of Theological Students” wonderfully incorporates both the need for personal piety and the blessings and necessity of communal life. I have heard from individuals that books are not needed, we simply need the Bible. And while I do not mean to undermine the Scriptures, this is foolish thinking. Warfield’s comments are amazing: “Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. ‘What!’, is the appropriate response, ‘than ten hours over your books, on your knees?’ Why should you turn from God when you turn to your books, or feel that you must turn from your books in order to turn to God?” (95) Harman does a great job of wedding the two as well in chapter five.

And one final strength, which is also personal for me, is the emphasis Harman places on the minister’s family. In his chapter “Staying Fresh” Harman writes, “Your first priority has to be your own family, who need fatherly care and attention. Nothing can substitute for this, for if you cannot care for your family, how can you care for the church of God? (I Tim. 3:5)” (38) I know of several ministers who have ruined their families and ministries because they neglected their families. For him to include this in a work designed for young people, it is priceless advice.

Final Thoughts

I have to conlude, predominantly because I don’t want to rewrite the book, but also because it would be worth your time and money to purchase and read it yourself. I would like to, however, address one of my comments regarding the predominat Reformed overtones of the work. A brief glance at his references and it is easily seem that his Reformed background comes into play. But the surprise was that the work itself would avail to backgrounds of several persuasions, and since it is a work for the Church (notice the capital ‘c’), it can and should be applied to all within Christ’s body. So, preacher friends, get this book! Keep a couple of extra copies for those young people who may have a spark of God’s call in their lives. Church member, check it out! This book gives a brief glimpse into the life of your minister. It will enable you to pray for fervently and effectually for him, and speaking on behalf of ministers, we need your prayers.