Clay Werner’s new book, On the Brink: Grace for the Burned Out Pastor (P&R 2014), is chock full of rich, challenging, and gospel-centered reflections for pastors. I’ve said this before, but I don’t think a pastor needs to be burned out to find great value in this book. For those of you non-pastors reading this, On the Brink is also a good read as you pray for and encourage your own pastors. What is more, many of the dynamics pastors experience are identical to the ones you face, thus there are many places where this book “maps” on to your own lives as well.
Here is (yet) another great one I had to share:
Only the death of Christ, our suffering Servant-Savior, can set us free from our self-absorption that hinders us from sacrificially and genuinely serving others. It is the grace purchased for us by our Servant-Savior that shapes us into his image as servant-leaders. In other words, grace not only frees us from slavery to ourselves, but also empowers us to enslave ourselves to others (Mark 10:43044; Gal. 5:13). We have been set free by God’s love to be enslaved to others in love.
As noted above, there are many things that hinder this mind-set in us. We struggle to serve at all for numerous reasons, and even when we do serve, we can often do it in a very self-serving way! We may have entered into ministry with a love for people in general and realized that genuinely serving and loving particular people in particular ways would mean significant hardship, often thankless service, and mentally and spiritually exhausting ministry. But we have been bought with a price, and our lives are no longer our own! Grace doesn’t just educate, and it doesn’t just give an incredible experience. Grace equips and empowers us to serve. Serving those around us, even when it’s exceptionally difficult over long periods of time, is exactly what we’ve been called to do. Thus, being a servant in a broken world to broken people in broken places entails having a gospel-centered heart, an others-centered mindset, and difficult but incredibly rewarding labor.
R. Andrew Compton
Christ Reformed Church (URCNA)