In this last year, one of the voices that has guided my own spiritual growth has been DA Carson. He has a knack that I so appreciate – clarity in thought with pastor sensitivity. I am wired that way, I wish to do ministry that way – work from the mind for the PURPOSE of reaching the heart. In my kindle reader app, I have books categorized by authors, and it has been interesting for me to watch the “DA Carson” category grow over the months. The latest edition to that category is a reflection he writes about his dad, Tom Carson. The title clarifies it’s content:
“Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflection of Tom Carson”
Here’s my highlight from the preface:
“Some pastors, mightily endowed by God, are remarkable gifts to the church. They love their people, they handle Scripture well, they see many conversions, their ministries span generations, they understand their culture yet refuse to be domesticated by it, they are theologically robust and personally disciplined. I do not need to provide you with a list of names: you know some of these people, and you have been encouraged and challenged by them, as I have. Some of them, of course, carry enormous burdens that watching Christians do not readily see. Nevertheless, when we ourselves are not being tempted by the green-eyed monster, we thank God for such Christian leaders from the past and pray for the current ones. Most of us, however, serve in more modest patches. Most pastors will not regularly preach to thousands, let alone tens of thousands. They will not write influential books, they will not supervise large staffs, and they will never see more than modest growth. They will plug away at their care for the aged, at their visitation, at their counseling, at their Bible studies and preaching. Some will work with so little support that they will prepare their own bulletins. They cannot possibly discern whether the constraints of their own sphere of service owe more to the specific challenges of the local situation or to their own shortcomings. Once in a while they will cast a wistful eye on “successful” ministries. Many of them will attend the conferences sponsored by the revered masters and come away with a slightly discordant combination of, on the one hand, gratitude and encouragement and, on the other, jealousy, feelings of inadequacy, and guilt. Most of us-let us be frank-are ordinary pastors. Dad was one of them. This little book is a modest attempt to let the voice and ministry of one ordinary pastor be heard, for such servants have much to teach us.
But my aim is much more modest: to convey enough of his ministry and his own thought that ordinary ministers are encouraged, not least by the thought that the God of Augustine, Calvin, Spurgeon, and Piper is no less the God of Tom Carson, and of you and me.”
Biographies do wonderful things for my heart and I expect nothing less through this one.