What do you think it's like being a minister?
Apart from the sermon on Sunday, what do you think your minister gets up to during the week? Not just how does he spend his time, how do you think he spends his heart (if I can put it that way)? If you were to open his study door and crack open his thoughts, what would be his concerns, his passions and struggles?
Chapter 5, but even more so Chapter 6 is the reason why I recommended this book for EQUIPbookclub. They recount a particularly tough time in Tom's life and ministry "his own dark night of the soul" (p61). Carson opens the door of his Dad's study and finds a man on his knees, pleading for his people, wrestling with his own sense of failure and desperately dependant upon God's grace and strength.
I've found these chapters fascinating and challenging. In Ch 6, Carson includes large slabs of his Dad's journal. They are so raw, earnest and haunting in how they convey his struggles and doubts. Even his daily records of tasks, the people he visited, prayed for, the work he did, have been a rebuke to my own lack of discipline.
But to be honest, Ch 6 scared me. I'm heading to bible college next week and these chapters scared me with how tough ministry can be, the fact that all too often it is simply "slogging perseverance" (p75).
As you read these chapters, please pray for the ministers you know. Please also, however, take heed of Don Carson's reflections on pp92-96. These serve as quasi-correctives to Tom's overly negative view of himself. They also push you to God and his grace.
Ministry is hard. The Christian life is hard. It is a slog. But I was so comforted that from God's perspective (which ultimately, is reality) this slog is abundantly glorious, so we approach with boldness and do not give up (2 Corinthians 3:7-4:1). After all, if God is for us, who is against us? (Romans 8:31b).