Book Recommendation: Faithful Endurance: The Joy of Shepherding People for a Lifetime.
Faithful Endurance is one of the most helpful and convicting books I have read in a long time. By God’s mercy, it was a book I needed to read during this season in my life. The wide range of subjects was refreshingly helpful to me.
Here is how the book is laid out: Twelve different authors respond to “letters” written to them by a struggling pastor. Here are the chapters:
1. Ministry Has Left Me Spiritually Listless by Tim Keller
2. Is It Time for Me to Go? by D.A. Carson
3. My Preaching Always Sounds the Same by Bryan Chappell
4. I’m Under the Fire of Criticism by Dan Doriani
5. I Would Never Have Attended the Church I Now Lead by Tom Acol
6. My Critics Are a Burden for My Wife by Juan and Jeanine Sanchez
7. They’ve Left and I’m Crushed! By Dave Harvey
8. Does Staying in a Small Rural Church Make Me a Failure? by Mark McCullogh
9. I’m Feeling Tired, Worn Out, and in Need of a Break by John Starke
10. My Church Has Outgrown My Gifts by Scott Patty
11. How Am I Going to Make it Financially? by Brandon Shields
12. I’ve Come to Doubt My Calling by Jeff Robinson Sr.
I benefitted from each chapter and could share many examples, but let me share just one helpful chapter with you. John Starkes’ section, where he discusses the idea of Sabbath, particularly helped me. He said,
My guess is that pastors forsake rest because they see a day off primarily as a day designed for recovery from or precaution against exhaustion. This creates a good bit of personal justification to rarely rest, because ambition or fear can provide enough adrenaline rushing through you that you’ll never “feel” exhausted. You will, then, always just keep working.
I find that true. To be sure, I get tired, but the ambition required to lead or the fear of people’s approval gives me enough adrenaline to push through and keep going. I’ve often secretly wondered when I will just collapse in exhaustion. It’s then, I think, “maybe I should take a break.” Sometimes I do, often I just soldier on. It is such a wrong view of Sabbath rest that God has designed for us to incorporate weekly.
Starkes continues: “The Sabbath, however, does something terrifying at first. It brings stillness and quiet so that all the ghosts and goblins of our insecurities and anxieties come to the surface.” I know that is one reason why I struggle to rest. Busyness crowds out the voices of my insecurities and anxieties.
The creation week is our example to follow, according to Starkes. God could have created everything in one day, but he chose to spread it out over a week and then take a rest at the end. Furthermore, our infinite, omnipotent God didn’t rest because He was tired. Therefore, Starkes asks,
“If God rested even though he wasn’t tired, and if he asks his image-bearers to rest like he rested, do you think maybe there’s a deeper reason for rest than mere exhaustion?”
Since Adam was formed on day six, and God rested on day seven, Starkes also notes, “The first act of man was not work but a participation in rest.”
I could share many more examples of how the book helped me, but I want you to read it for yourself!
I encourage you to get a copy and read the chapters about discouragement, longevity in ministry, the lack of closure pastors have to live with, and many other helpful discussions.
You can pick up the book on Amazon by clicking here.