Deep Mind and Impassioned Heart: On the Writing Pastor

The new issue of Themelios, the academic theological journal of the Gospel Coalition, is just out. It looks terrific. Here’s an essay by D. A. Carson that should be typically helpful. I did a largely appreciative review of David Platt’s Radical Together that might stir some pots on the issue of wealth and stewardship.

There’s much more. Here’s a swatch from a compelling essay by Pete Schemm on the writing pastor.

In his book The Intellectual Life, A. G. Sertillanges, a French theologian and philosopher, presents a way to think about thinking that is profoundly sacred. Sertillanges reflects on the virtues of the life of the mind. And in doing so, he introduces us to the vocation of deep thinking. This pursuit is “a sacred call”-a lifelong vocation. He calls it the “the deepening of the mind” because it “requires penetration and continuity and methodical effort, so as to attain a fullness of development which will correspond to the call of the Spirit, and to the resources that it has pleased Him to bestow on us.”

Pastoral ministry, rightly conceived as a Spirit-led vocation, begins with the personal development of a pastor. The Spirit’s vocational assignment for pastors includes the life of the mind. The pastor is first a Christian who is, like any other follower of Jesus Christ, committed to the deepening of the mind. This depth of mind and heart is part of what Jesus was after when he replied to the Pharisee, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” (Matt 22:37-38; cf.Rom 12:1-2).

I love this call from Schemm:

What the church needs today is deeply spiritual leaders. And a writing pastor is most often a deeper man than he would be otherwise. So whether in notes, letters, journal entries, articles, blogs, or sermon manuscripts, a pastor can practice deepening his own mind and soul through writing. This will, in time, deepen the souls of those to whom he ministers.

Amen. May there be many more like Schemm who write as pastors and who strengthen Christ’s church through their labors.

  • Sam James

    I think we need to clarify what we mean by “writing.” Not all forms of writing are created equal. Blogging can easily become an additctive behavior that stops serving a legitimate purpose, and simply makes a man feel more “networked” than he really is.

    I would counsel pastors of typically sized congregations to reconsider any blogging that your people don’t really interact with. Maybe those hours (yes, hours; I’ve blogged so I know how much time goes into really making a good site) would be better spent visiting your flock or writing newsletters of encouragement.

    • ostrachan

      Hi Samuel–thanks for chiming in with your two cents. I didn’t make any explicit reference to blogging; in fact, the article I linked to focuses more on other forms of writing. It is true that pastors need to watch their time carefully. With many of God’s people, I’m grateful that a good number of pastors throughout Christian history have found time to write for the benefit of the church. One of the best places for a pastor to focus his writing time, actually, seems to me to be his sermons.


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