Friday, March 18, 2011

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson, D. A. Carson

I have been meaning to read this book for ages, I gave it to G for his birthday 2 years ago, and he both enjoyed it and found it quite sobering.

D. A. Carson has written the book as a memoir of his father's life and ministry using his journals, letters, sermons and other written material. Tom Carson ministered in French speaking Canada for much of his life. It was a gospel-centred ministry, but one that (in human terms) was not particularly successful, he ministered to people without seeing much growth or many conversions. He didn't run a mega-church. He wasn't the keynote speaker at major conferences. However, he was a faithful man who preached the truth and desired to see people saved and grow in Christ. That is why Carson refers to him as an ordinary pastor.

Rather than desiring to be the next big preacher, church-planter, speaker, etc - this is what those of us in full-time ministry should actually be aspiring to. A life of faithfulness for as long as God gives us. Actually, this is what all of us (paid ministry or not) should be aiming for.

It's a humbling read of a man's walk with God as he sought to serve him all the days of his life - both in the ministry and his family.

At times, Tom struggled with depression or at least despondency over his ministry and it's perceived lack of fruit. There are helpful chapters for others in ministry who feel the same way.

The most moving part of the book is the account of the years where he takes care of his wife, Marj, as she declines with Alzheimer's:
"She looked after me all my life," he would say; "it's my turn to look after her. And it's a privilege." (p135)
Carson summarises his father and his life:
He never wrote a book, but he loved the Book. He was never wealthy or powerful, but he kept growing as a Christian: yesterday's grace was never enough. He was not a far-sighted visionary, but he looked forward to eternity... He was not very good at putting people down, except on his prayer lists...

Dad won entrance to the only throne room that matters, not because he was a good man or a great man - he was, after all, a most ordinary pastor - but because he was a forgiven man. And he heard to the voice of him whom he longed to hear saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord." (p147-8)

By God's grace, so may we all.

2 comments:

Unknown said...

Hi Wendy,

I have just finished reading this book. I really enjoyed it too. What a remarkable and Godly man. It brought tears to my eyes reading how he cared for his wife in her last years.

Amellia

Wendy said...

It is an encouraging read, Amellia - glad you liked it!