I love to read. Yesterday in celebration of the the United States independence, I took a day off. Part of my day was to not fix anything, as is the norm. I actually had many things done previously, so I was able to sit and read for an extended session. Typically many books are often in the process of being read at the same time in my life. As I perused over the titles that had been begun, I began to ponder the writer' influence upon my life. Writers can be friends. If we read enough of particular people we will begin to develop an affinity for them. We also begin to be influenced by their logic, reasoning, and emphasis on matters.
Of the books I read, I love biographies most. Not only do i want to read from a person, I want to know about who it is I am reading from. I tend to be one of those persons who reads the introductions, and author's biographies within a book. If a movie has director's commentary I am likely to indulge in that also. The backstory to me is often more interesting than the story itself.
Thus in the pondering on my vocation. The question of whom would I want to be my pastor came up. I have found these men to not only be pastors whom I would want to be under had I lived in their town, but I do find that I allow them to shape me even today as I read their works.
#5 Would be John Newton. Former slave trader, hymn writer, self described wretch. Few have been known for more repentance and self sacrificing love.
#4 Is John Calvin. He has often been the center of much debate. However, he led an entire city to fashion itself around the gospel. His influence today is still very strong, and to neglect his writings is to deprive oneself of vigorous spiritual exercise.
#3 J C Ryle fills this chair, and I am glad. Only in the past 4 years have I come to know about this wonderful self sacrificing pastor. I estimate I have only read about 12 of his books, but praise God there are many more to be mined and reread. He is essentially the pastor I read daily before I begin my personal time of devotions.
#2 Is certainly Jonathan Edwards. Few ever had that discipline, wisdom, mind, and passion as Jonathan Edwards had. America would not be what it is today without God using this man.
#1 Martyn Lloyd Jones. This man exemplifies the pastorate. Theologian and care giver to the flock. He has a wonderful exegesis of the Bible. He can reason with children as well as the most learned. He gave up a promising career in medicine to take on a humble pastorate.
All these men have elements that I find I need and learn from. The marks of their ministry have several things in common that I wish to have.
- A resounding deep priority to have a prayer life before all else.
- A passion to be filled by the Holy Spirit
- Suffering through trials of life as well as ministry only to rely upon the strength of God.
- A diligence in ministry duties.
- Humility and a hatred of sin.
- Care for their flocks by love rather than by assignment.