I recently picked up John Piper’s, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry, again. It’s good. I have it on a regular rotation of books I revisit every couple years. If you haven’t read it, you should, particularly if you’re a pastor…or a follower of Christ.
How often, and easily, do we professionalize our faith? What follower of Christ does not know the daily fight to enter into the deep currents of God’s grace - and instead choose what is predictable, manageable and approved by the world? Who is not prone to be more impressed with performance, applause, and strategic plans to the neglect of genuine passion, sincere faithfulness and love in action? Clearly, they aren’t mutually exclusive but, if we’re honest, they often are.
This is something I have to watch carefully in my life. I fail at times, but he gives more grace. What I want for my soul, and those of my people, is a deep hunger and thirst for God. I want my soul more impressed with Jesus than any other thing in the universe. That will never happen if we’re satisfied with a mere professional faith.
Are you captured by him and his infinite excellencies? Are you daily practicing heartfelt repentance and faith? Is the Spirit moving you toward God and away from sin? Is the Bible the God’s Word to you? Are you passionately committed to your local church? Is there a growing burden for the lost taking root in your soul? Are you growing more suspicious of yourself and less of Him?
Or, are we living just like everyone else.
Christians, we are not professionals.
Here’s how Pastor John says it:
We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. The mentality of the professional is not the mentality of the prophet. It is not the mentality of the slave of Christ. Professionalism has nothing to do with the essence and heart of the Christian ministry. The more professional we long to be, the more spiritual death we will leave in our wake. For there is no professional childlikeness (Mt 18:3); there is no professional tenderheartedness (Eph4:32); there is no professional panting after God (Ps 42:1).
But our first business is to pant after God in prayer. Our business is to weep over our sins (James 4:9). Is there professional weeping? Our business is to strain forward to the holiness of Christ and the prize of our upward call of God (Phil 3:14); to pummel our bodies and subdue them lest we be cast away (1 Cor 9:27); to deny ourselves and take up the blood-spattered cross daily (Luke 9:23). How do you carry a cross professionally? We have been crucified with Christ; yet now we live by faith in the one who loved us and gave Himself for us (Gal 2:20). What is professional faith?