Faithful Endurance: The Joy of Shepherding People for a Lifetime is an apt title for this short, but loaded book. I was pleased in opening its pages to recognize several names of well-known pastors and authors, a couple of whom have heavily influenced my ministry, as contributors. The authors of this work include:
Tom Ascol is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, and executive director of Founders Ministries.
D. A. Carson is president of the Gospel Coalition and also served as a professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity
School in Deerfield, Illinois, for forty years.
Bryan Chapell is senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Peoria, Illinois, and is a council member with the Gospel Coalition.
Dan Doriani is vice president of strategic academic projects and professor of theology and ethics at Covenant Theological Seminary in
St. Louis, Missouri, and is a council member with the Gospel Coalition.
Collin Hansen is editorial director for the Gospel Coalition and serves on the advisory board of Beeson Divinity School.
Dave Harvey is executive director of Sojourn Network, teaching pastor at Summit Church in Fort Myers / Naples, Florida, and founder of Am I Called?
Tim Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Manhattan, chairman of Redeemer City to City, and vice
president of the Gospel Coalition.
Mark McCullough is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Frisco City, Alabama.
Scott Patty is the founding pastor of Grace Community Church in Nashville, Tennessee.
Jeff Robinson Sr. is pastor of Christ Fellowship Church of Louisville, Kentucky, and is a senior editor for the Gospel Coalition.
Juan R. Sanchez is senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, and a council member with the Gospel Coalition.
Brandon Shields is pastor of Soma Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
John Starke is lead pastor at Apostles Church Uptown in New York City.
Faithful Endurance tackles several challenges, woes, burdens and struggles that pastors commonly encounter in the throes of ministry. Each chapter is aptly titled for the respective challenge or struggle addressed. Among the plethora of issues that could have been selected, the following situations are unpacked in keeping with the title and theme of the book- faithful endurance:
1. Ministry Has Left Me Spiritually Lifeless
2. Is It Time for Me to Go?
3. My Preaching Always Sounds the Same
4. I’m under the Fire of Criticism
5. I Would Never Have Attended the Church I Now Lead
6. My Critics Are a Burden for My Wife
7. They’ve Left, and I’m Crushed!
8. Staying in a Small Rural Church Make Me a Failure?
9. I’m Feeling Tired, Worn Out, and in Need of a Break
10. My Church Has Outgrown My Gifts
11. How Am I Going to Make It Financially?
12. I’ve Come to Doubt My Calling
The beginning each chapter has a hypothetical letter from a pastor going through the stated struggle which is then addressed in a similar reply in an essay by one of the contributors who has dealt with that precise scenario or struggle. Most of the chapters draw heavily from their experience as a pastor, giving the book a warm, inviting and personal tone of stepping in the wise counsel of a seasoned shepherded.
Although many pastors can surely relate to aspects of the other sections, it is difficult to imagine a better person to address that concern or challenge of their respective chapter. For example, Chapter 3: My Preaching Always Sounds the Same is written by Bryan Chapell. Who better to take on this chapter than the author of Christ Centered-Preaching which is now in its third edition? Or Tom Ascol’s chapter, I would never attend the church I now lead, which retells the horrifying circumstances of a deacon trying to gather signatures to rescind a call to Tom while he was on his way to his new church. Or Dan Doriani’s chapter on facing criticism. It is difficult to imagine the hurt and damage caused by someone who would enter your office, yell for 10 minutes and finally leave after being told to calm down, as Doriani recalls. He goes on to note that because this individual was heavily involved in the church, that people believed his account that Doriani yelled at him and told him to leave.
Many of these firsthand accounts contain elements of humor, but more contain heartache. I could not help but empathize with Jeff Robinson’s closing chapter, I’ve come to doubt my call after he retells reading his resignation before his congregation which so wounded him. Despite the ups and downs, challenges, set-backs, criticism and short-comings these contributing pastors retell, they would be remiss if they did not point back to Christ and his faithfulness. Thankfully, no chapter fails to point to one who was faithful—our Lord who grows us in endurance.
It was refreshing reading this book, knowing the daunting task before myself as a young pastor was not ultimately dependent upon my own strength, but on Christ’s. This book is written by pastors, for pastors, but it is neither niche, nor too exclusive for an average congregant to pick up and grow in love and empathy for the one who watches over them in the ministry of the word. I am not only heartily recommending this book, I already have an even younger pastor in mind that I want to gift them with.
Faithful Endurance is an excellent book on the joy of shepherding for a lifetime. It pairs well with other similar works by TGC (The Gospel Coalition), to include 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me. Any pastor, especially young and training for ministry, would benefit from its pages.