Reformed Pastor

I just finished reading Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor.  Baxter was a Puritan pastor and writer who lived from 1615-1691.  I was not sure what to expect from this book.  I do not have much background in Puritan thought and I am not the most reformed in my theology.  As it ends up, Baxter was not that reformed either, at least not in the way we think today.  By ‘reformed ‘ Baxter meant a pastor who is trully converted and who is fully committed to preaching the Gospel and seeing people experience salvation.  Baxter begins by urging pastors to reflect on their own conversion.  If a pastor has not experienced Christ, their ministry will be of little worth.  There is some valuable teaching on pastors looking on the inside, even if they are really converted.  Baxter then challenges pastors on how committed they are to being evangelistic.  Are we looking for people’s respect or are we seeking to see people enter the kingdom of God?  Baxter’s plan for this is for pastors to set aside two days a week to go into people’s homes and to make sure that the people in their congregation understand the Gospel, that they have experienced salvation and that they are growing in their faith.  There are times when this book is hard to read.  Baxter has little use for pastors taking time for themselves.  He would rather see pastors burn out in this life and stand justified before God on the judgment day.  I think there is a place for pastors to look after themselves, but at the same time this book provides a powerful reminder of keeping the focus on what is important.  This is an older book but it is still an important book for pastors today to read.

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