Not every Christian changes the world in noticeable ways. In fact, most of us don’t–not even those who are preachers. And yet, every Christian is called to a faithful life of service and humble submissions to Christ because of what He has done for us in redeeming us on the cross. The new life we live because of his substitutionary atonement is to be a distinct life, even if no one ever notices it. So a biography of a Christian minister who did not shake the world with his testimony or gather a large following or gain renown for his public work is usual, but should perhaps be all the more common because it’s more like the lives that most of us live. Such a book is The Pastor of Kilsyth: The Life and Times of W.H. Burns by Islay Burns from Banner of Truth.
If you’ve never heard of W.H. Burns, that’s because he’s not well known. And yet, well, let the biography tell it on through the reflection on Burns’ passing:
“He was… a peculiarly attractive representative of a type of the Christian pastorate which is, I suspect, rapidly becoming obsolete,–that of the quiet, steady, ongoing, conscientiously diligent and calmly earnest country minister, at once the father, the counsellor, and the friend of every man, woman, and child within his parochial bounds,–which is now giving place to the more impetuous and stirring, though in some respects also, perhaps, more one-sided energy of modern times.” (184)
If such was needed in 18th century Scotland, how much more in the time and age of the megachurch and celebrity pastor? When the world is crumbling around us, quiet, faithful, perseverance is the fruit of the Spirit that will serve us and the church best. The Pastor of Kilsyth is a better model for us than any book I’ve read in the past few years. It’s a book that you should read too, and a book that would make an encouraging gift for your pastor (assuming it’s not already on his shelf).
Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast an Amazon Associate (which is linked in this blog), and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO