As a young pastor this book was incredibly helpful to me. Extremely practical and easy to read. H.B. Charles, Jr. took over as pastor at his father’s church when he was only 16 years old and has been involved in full-time ministry since. Even better, he’s only pastored at two different churches in his lifetime, so the principles he lays out in this book are time-tested. Charles has endured the trenches of ministry long enough and consistently enough to see what works and what doesn’t and he graciously recounts not only the successes of his ministry but the failures as well so as to warn young pastors what NOT to do.
The book is divided into three parts, and I’ll quote the titles from the book:
1) The Pastor’s Heart – Being a pastorwho is first and foremost a Christian.
2) The Pastor’s Leadership – Practical wisdom for leading your church with integrity, wisdom, and love.
3) The Pastor’s Public Ministry – Preaching, teaching, and the ministry of the pastor before God and his congregation.
Basically, what you see above is exactly what you get and the reader shouldn’t expect any more. This leads me to a warning: this book is not a comprehensive manual on pastoral ministry. Charles defines pastoral ministry as “being devoted to prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). As a result, you won’t find much helpful information related to other duties that pastor’s may find themselves in: weddings/funerals, hospital visits, hiring staff, etc. However, I mention this only to inform the potential reader and not as a means of discouraging anyone from reading this book. In relation to prayer and preaching/teaching, Charles’ work is a gold mine and is worthy reading for any new or seasoned pastor.
I would recommend this book as a first reading for either new pastors or those considering pastoral ministry, then I would encourage them to consult the appendix of this book where Charles provides a very helpful list of books for further reading, commentaries, and other resources. Below are a few quotes that I found helpful from the book.
“Of course, we should strive to maximize our ministry work for Christ. We should proclaim Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ (Col. 1: 28). But do not become confused about what Christian ministry is all about. We are not building a career. We are discharging a stewardship. Paul wrote, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4: 1– 2). That’s our assignment. Be faithful. Not successful or prosperous or famous. Faithful. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.”
“A church is not committed to the Word just because the pulpit preaches the truth. A church is committed to the Word when biblical preaching shapes its life.”
“Our goal in preaching should be to light a torch, not fill a bucket.”
“Long naps are a key strategy for spiritual warfare.”
“Disgruntled members will not have an opportunity to get a foothold without linking their cause to weak leaders in the church.”
“Avoid hero worship. Everyone God uses is a jerk and a sinner.”