A Pastoral Tension
One of the books that I always recommend to people is Gregory the Great’s, The Book of Pastoral Rule. He was a pope. Calvin called him “the last good pope,” and by everyone’s estimation, he was a very capable leader and administrator. In his book, he talks a lot about the tension that every pastor faces between what he called “the contemplative” and “the active”—what we might think of as your prayer life and running a business meeting, or the administrative load of being a pastor.
Every pastor faces that tension of How do I cultivate a rich inner-life and focus on the spiritual aspect of my calling without neglecting my more mundane responsibilities? But also, how do I do those things without neglecting the inner? He talks about that tension, how each of those should be serving the other, and how much the work of a pastor is to cultivate a sense of balance between those two things.
How do I cultivate a rich inner life and focus on the spiritual aspect of my calling without neglecting my more mundane responsibilities?
A High Calling
He also just has such a high view of the pastoral office. He calls it the “art of arts,” and his book is designed to help us tremble before that office and to have a very high regard for it. Especially because it’s so different from some of the other books we read on pastoral theology, a lot of Protestant pastors can benefit from reading this book. It’s not that hard to get into, and there’s a lot of practical wisdom that we can learn from it.
Gavin Ortlund is the author of Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals: Why We Need Our Past to Have a Future.
What is the best way Protestants today should look back on the Reformation? Should we think of it more like a happy birth or an ugly divorce?
As evangelicals, we tend to go right to the cross and to Jesus dying to save us, and sometimes we forget that’s not the only thing that he did to save us.
Theological retrieval can be very beneficial, but it can also go wrong. It may also be useful to briefly articulate several potential dangers.