In John Piper’s book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, he writes to warn pastors of the danger of becoming so “professionalized” in the various avenues of ministry.
I read through this book a few years ago, but now it’s a required reading for one of my classes. We had to read through it and write out some helpful applications we gained from the reading.
Piper says this, “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.”
Now, he is not saying that pastors should not handle themselves in a professional manner. He is saying that the essence of ministry and declaring hope to a broken world naturally leads to heavy hearts, carrying other’s burdens, and dealing with the broken-hearted.
He goes on, “Our business is to weep over sins (James 4:9). Is there professional weeping?…to deny ourselves and take up the blood-spattered cross daily (Luke 9:23). How do you carry a cross professionally?”
He sounds this alarm because of the tendency for pastors to try to be more “professional” in their talk and image and style than they are as shepherds concerned about their people’s hearts.
Over the last fifteen years, there has been a spike in conferences, trainings, and books that promise to develop your leadership and professional skills as a pastor. You can look on the Christian best-seller lists to see that “leadership” books have been some of the most popular areas for over a decade.
This doesn’t mean that any forms of professional service are wrong. People should have an expectation for pastors to do their job with a certain level of professionalism. But there is a difference between performing your job duties with levels of professionalism and those who live to impress people with their ability to compete on the world’s stage of prominence.
Piper reminds us that we are “aliens” and “sojourners” awaiting our true home. Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). But are we leading our people to think in that reality and live in that reality?
How can you professionally mourn with those who mourn or weep with those who weep?
How can you professionally be poor in spirit?
This is a great warning to be watchful of the draw in our hearts to be too attached, too esteemed, to popular, or too professional in this world.
Sankie P. Lynch