at Greater Risk”
This book was first titled “Pastors at Risk” and published by Victor Books (1993). Now, ten years later it is updated, revised with some new insights added. It is now titled “Pastors at Greater Risk” because the authors sensed that “the risks in ministry are greater than ever” (p. 14). It is under a different publisher. This is a book for pastors and church leaders as well. By the way, this is one of those books you do not want to speed read. It is serious reading, but easy reading.
is divided into three sections, which "deal with the risks that
pastors tell us they face. In
section 1, we explore in detail where these
risks come from. In
section 2, we investigate the risks pastors face right in their own
families. In section 3, we
look at the risks confronting pastors in their inner, personal lives"
James Dobson in the foreword writes: “It is impossible to overstate
how deeply I feel about the importance of upholding the men and women who
serve us through the ministry of the church….
The pastor, in addition to carrying this heavy responsibility for
the church and society, usually has a family of his own at home”
shared concern of Dr Dobson for the personal and professional life of the
pastor was first aired on his “Focus on the Family” broadcast. In
that conversation, which is the book’s first chapter, “Warning:
Crisis in Progress,” London
recites a list of alarming risk factors gathered by the 1991 Fuller
Institute Survey of Pastors. Here
The authors reinforce these shocking statistics with the findings of other pastoral surveys. In Focus on the Family’s random survey of 5000 pastors, 40% said they considered leaving their positions in the previous three months (pp. 25-26).
chapter two, the authors dealt with “Ministry Keeps Getting
Tougher.” The advice is “Ministry
is vastly different from what it used to be---I must retool my ministry
with strategies to meet effectively the challenges I’m facing” (p.
37). Then they went on to list
some 20 hazards ministers face today.
Decides What You Do?” (Chapter Three) addresses the problems of
inflated expectations and the resultant leadership crisis.
To help fight the downward spiral of disillusionment, the authors
encourage pastors to redefine their vision for the ministry---including
themselves and their families---according to the Golden Rule, in a set of
worthier, more realistic expectations.
Goals should include the pursuit of excellence and a life
“saturated with Christ.” But
they must also recognize human limitations and consider the source when
expectations are expressed by others.
Chapter Four, “Avoiding the Hazards in Ministry Marriage,” the authors zeroed in on pastors’ marriages. With the help of Gordon and Gail McDonald, whose lives and ministry were pulled apart by infidelity but eventually were restored, London and Wiseman trace the pitfalls set in the way of ministers and their spouses. The McDonalds point out that, ironically, in an age where sex is all around, intimacy is often lost, and self-deceit is a key factor in entertaining temptation, in a cultural climate where truth is becoming less and less valued. Pastors are especially vulnerable to moral failure when they feel they are above reproach, and when their congregation accords them success and accolades.
authors then made the following prescriptions for nurturing a healthy
pastoral marriage (pp. 109 – 113):
Chapters Five and Six (“God Made Your Wife Special” and “Showcase
Kids or Strong Families” respectively), the authors visit the
pastor’s home to consider the pastor’s family; his wife and the
notorious PK (preacher’s kid). In
a true example, a 16-year old caught drinking wreaks havoc on the family
and the ministry of a pastor who looks good from the outside because of
his outward achievements, but, says the authors, “his inner spiritual
resources are dry and brittle” (p. 150).The authors offer some
advice in this matter here. They
say that the pastors with this kind of dilemma should be more concerned
about their children than their reputations.
Instead of looking for someone to blame, this pastor needs to show
unconditional love while confronting the problem, realizing that the teen
will soon be an adult and recognizing that there must be support from the
congregation for “a serious bump in the road” which is “not a
life-threatening episode.” Meanwhile,
the minister must confront his own insincerity.
is especially important for pastors and their spouses to provide guidance
and leadership for their children through the career crises and
inconveniences that often come with being part of a pastor’s family.
The authors advise parents of “PKs” to remember to please the
people that matter most to them---their families---by nurturing their
relationship with God and by seeking outside support for their lifetime
role as parents.
I would like to stop here and continue this review in the next issue of BTW. But, dear fellow ministers, I would highly recommend you to purchase a copy and read it. I have discovered it to be an exceedingly helpful book that brings significant hope and practical solutions to the constant and major changes so many pastors faced today.
by Dr John Lim)
At chapel on 21st January, our guest lecturer Dr. Douglas Milne spoke on the topic of ‘Spiritual Debts’. Debts are generally held to be bad or shameful: we seek ways of discharging them, and are happier when we have none. But there is a distinctively Christian way of looking at the topic of debt, as in the hymn where the writer declares himself to be ‘a debtor to mercy alone’. There are some debts which Christians should not seek to avoid and, indeed, cannot do without.
this background, Dr. Milne looked at four references to ‘debt’ or
‘obligation’ in Paul’s letter to the Romans. The first is found at
Romans 1:14–15, where Paul declares himself to be ‘obligated both to
Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish’; obligated, as
v. 15 makes clear, to preach the gospel. We, too, have this obligation. We
have received God’s free grace, and sharing the gospel is a debt we owe
to those around us. Like Paul, we should be ready to cross cultural
boundaries to discharge this debt, and we should be willing to share the
gospel with both wise and foolish, for all need it.
we are debtors to the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:12ff). Paul puts this negatively
in Rom. 8 – we are not debtors to the ‘flesh’, the old sinful self
which will lead us to death – but it is clear from the context that the
positive side of what Paul says is that we are under obligation to the
Holy Spirit. Paul lists our debts to the Holy Spirit in ch. 8: he is the
Spirit of life (v. 2); we have the mind of the Spirit (vv. 5–6); the
Spirit will transform our bodies (v. 11); the Spirit witnesses with our
spirit that we are God’s children (v. 16); and the Spirit helps us in
our intercession (v. 26). How are we to pay our debt? We are to be led by
the Spirit. This is not simply a matter of guidance, but relates to the
general moral character of our lives, our conformity to the likeness of
we owe a debt of love: ‘Let no debt remain outstanding, except the
continuing debt to love one another’ (13:8). This is not a crippling
debt, but a fulfilling one, one which enriches us as we pay it. Origen
spoke of the debt of love in this way: ‘We should pay it daily and
always owe it.’ We owe this debt to everyone we know, everyone we meet,
everyone we come to befriend. Love, after all, fulfils God’s law. It is
the heart of Christian ethics; understandably so, for God himself is love.
Paul speaks at 15:27 of the money he has collected from Gentile churches,
for distribution among the churches of Jerusalem and Palestine: ‘If the
Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to
the Jews to share with them their material blessings.’ In a similar way,
wealthier Christians today are under an obligation to share their wealth
with poorer brethren. This sharing can take various forms: gifts of money;
ministry; helping to supply a better infrastructure; giving Bibles; and so
on. Such giving is an act of fellowship, reflecting the fact that we all
belong to one family.
In all this Jesus is our example: he shared the gospel; he honoured the Holy Spirit with his manhood; he practised love; and he cared for the poor. If he took these debts seriously, then so should we.
Speaker next week on 11 February will be Mr Hosea Lai.
Raymond Wong 2/2
Chan Ee Yuee 2/2
Siew Kim Siang 3/2
Tan Keng Lak 3/2
Susan Lim 4/2
Wong Lea Choung 4/2
Siow Yew Mun 4/2
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This page is updated on 3 Feb 2004.