The Chief Misery of the Church

The chief misery of the church lies in the fact that there are too many men who are ministers before they are Christians.

-Sinclair Ferguson per Richard Baxter, The Westminster Directory of Public Worship, p. 9

I do not think he means that the chief misery of the church is that too many men are unregenerate ministers (though that is quite true; and is a great misery), but that too many men who are Christians earnestly press themselves into ministry before they have thoroughly understood the Christian life themselves, that is, they have not been tested, suffered, or grown sufficiently in grace; and so they pridefully think that if they have some degree, or some self-appointed gifting, that they are primed for ministry (I do not mean to say that they should not be in ministry, only not immediately); Ferguson and Baxter mean to say “not so fast.”  Let a man devote himself to personal growth in grace and godliness, and with patience, God will prepare a man for ministry in due time.

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One Response

  1. agreed friend,

    Martin Lloyd Jones tells a story of being in London with some older ministers eating lunch. Customarily they began to talk about those whom they’d seen show signs of leadership in the area. One brother spoke of a man they knew who was doing wonderful things for the gospel in and around London.

    After hearing of the incredible ways in which the Lord was using this gentlemen, one of the brothers spoke up and said with all earnesty, “yes, let’s pray for him, but I don’t think he’s been humbled yet.” Lloyd Jones said up to that point he never realized the importance of being tried and found content in the ministry, a “sign of Jonah” if you will.

    Sinclair (and you) are right. Too often we rush men (and ourselves) into gospel ministry before they (we) have the opportunity to “count the cost” or “be humbled.” It seems that we cannot lead people to a place we have not been, at least for a season. Thank God that he doesn’t leave us without Christ to identify with us in those times.

    *note: the story is a paraphrase and not exact….but it’s the best way I remember it 🙂 *

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