Pastors/Planters, Drink from the Well of Theology

A fantastic word on the incredible value of reading theology by my friend, pastor Gerald Hiestand:

The expectations and demands of your congregation will almost certainly push you away from study and writing. So if you’re going to get after it, you are going to have to make it a priority in your schedule. I’ve found that setting aside my mornings works best for me. This year I’m reading Augustine on Mondays, Thomas on Tuesdays, Barth on Wednesdays, and contemporary theology/scholarship on Thursdays. I turn my phone off, don’t open my e-mail and don’t schedule any appointments (if at all possible) until noon. Of course, sometimes I have to pull up from studying — funerals, emergencies, etc., press in occasionally. But for the most part I’ve found that I can get nearly all of my administrative stuff done if I push it into the afternoons. (Typically, if you give yourself eight hours to do your administrative stuff, it will take eight hours. If you given yourself four, it will take four). Of course, this only works when you are in control of your schedule. Most pastors are, but some of you serve in a church where you are at the mercy of others. Even so, there are probably times in the week that are usually open. Schedule your study time around those times.

And one more point here — don’t just study for your next sermon or teaching assignment. Quite apart from striving toward the calling of the ecclesial theologian, too many pastors are merely one step ahead of the theological train. The lifeblood of the pastor — whether your local congregation realizes it or not — is a steady intake of rich theology, prayer and bible reading. Stop feeling guilty about prayerfully reading Calvin’s Institutes, or Anthanasius’ On the Incarnation or Augustine’s De Trinitate. Theological study isn’t something a pastor fits into his schedule when he’s completed his pastoral duties, rather theological study is the pastor’s duty. For the good of your congregation — for the good of your preaching and teaching and counseling and capacity to offer pastoral care — it is vital that you not neglect to feed yourself.

Read the whole post.

This was so good and right, I had to link to it again.  Too many pastorates today feed the people milk and not meat (see Hebrew 5:11-14).  If you want to offer your people a nourishing and delectable “meal” from the biblical text, study the great thinkers of the Christian past. You do not need to be Jonathan Edwards to honor the Lord in your ministry, but you would profit by reading more of him and less of whatever chatterbox is currently drawing attention.

Take just one hour a day and read something soaring, stretching, theologically challenging, philosophically expanding.  If you did this every day, every week, and every month for ten years of your ministry, you would have been able to work through many of the most important texts of the Christian church, and your ministry would be way stronger than if you had spent that time elsewhere. Your counseling would be richer, your sermons would be bolstered, and your vision of God and life would be far deeper than if you spent that hour on ESPN or Facebook.

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