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The End of Many Books

Brothers, We Are Not Professionals

by John Piper

Those who sow spiritual things are allowed to reap material things; making one’s living “by the gospel” is biblical (1 Cor. 9:14). A paycheck for one’s vocation means one isn’t an amateur, doing the work just for the love of it. That sounds like being a “professional.”

And there are specific and significant qualifications for being an elder/pastor. A man must not be shoddy in his ability to teach, let alone shady in his character, faithfulness, dependability. There’s a way in which you want a “professional.”

Piper isn’t arguing against money or skillfulness, but he is arguing against being a suit, against trying to accomplish supernatural things through manual effort. That is tough in pastoral ministry.

When Brothers came out in 2002 it didn’t just scratch an itch for me, it scratched a full body rash. That’s sort of disgusting, but so is being the wrong kind of professional pastor. Since then I’ve read through the book a few times, and recently read it again on Sunday mornings while on the elliptical (a time spent trying to wake up my aching body and soul before assembling with the saints to worship). It’s not novel now, of course, and if I was assigning it to younger shepherds I might not assign all the chapters (and so I’m taking back a star this time around). But this book has much solid food for a minister to become more mature.

4 of 5 stars