In my endeavor not to burn myself out before the school year actually begins, I try to read a biography or something a bit lighter during the summer. This was a book I picked up a while back and knew it would be great simply because D.A. Carson wrote it. It isn't Carson's typical type of work, intensely academic requiring a dictionary at hand throughout, but it was astonishing. Carson wrote this book about his dad, and it is encouraging because his dad was an ordinary pastor, no doubt about it. It rekindled my zeal for the pastoral ministry, as well as reshaping my understanding of the pastoral ministry. I now long to minister dilligently, making the most of my time for the days are indeed evil.
I will mention just two things that stood out to me throughout the book.
One was Tom Carson's amazing work ethic and unwillingness to waste any time He would probably look down on reading a book to "ease the mind" as I did when I read about him. His days began anywhere from 6-7 am and ended around midnight, give or take an hour. He disciplined himself to study 4 hours in preparation for his preaching ministry and pray 30 minutes to an hour each morning before lunch. After lunch he would then give himself to visitation and pastoral duties, such as counseling, evangelism, and caring for those in need. At night he would spend time with the kids and family, yet once they were in bed, he would devote himself to reading theology, studying the biblical languages, journaling, or more study for his sermons. He was dilligent and disciplined, something I am not and needed to be exhorted towards.
The second thing I want to draw your attention to was the way he viewed and practiced church. He was a pastor in Canada and he labored for a long time before the Lord began to swiftly bring in his elect from Canada. Here was a typical Wednesday evening schedule, a direct quote from the book. Tom had asked Don to come preach at the church, and this is what Don encoutered that Wednesday evening:
" I arrived at 7:30... There was half an hour of reverent singing, some of it freshly written hymns and songs. Shortly after 8:00 I began to preach. I finished just before 9:30... I answered questions until 10:00 P.M. Then prayer requests were solicited, and almost all of them had to do with the conversion of people or the spiritual growth of people to whom these believers were bearing witness. We got down on our knees to pray about 10:30 P.M. I was the first to leave, sometime between 12:30 and 1:00 A.M., as I still had some preparation to do for my class at 8:00 A.M. the next morning. The Pastor assured me this was a fairly normal Wednesday evening."
I know what you may be thinking, but is there really anything more important than meeting with God's people and engaging in the worship mentioned above?
Get this book, read it, be encouraged, and if nothing else, you can finally say you read a book by D. A. Carson that you fully understood!
Keep reading, and press on to holiness.