Home > Jack Hammer, The Ministry > If You Can(t) Do Anything Else

If You Can(t) Do Anything Else

December 18, 2006

I Wish I Said That...The first sign of the heavenly call is an intense, all-absorbing desire for the work. In order to a true call to the ministry there must be an irresistible, overwhelming craving and raging thirst for telling to others What God has done to our own souls; what if I call it a kind of στοςγη such as birds have for rearing their young when the season is come; when the mother-bird would sooner die than leave her nest. It was said of Alleine by one who knew him intimately, that “he was infinitely and insatiably greedy of the conversion of souls.” When he might have had a fellowship at his university, he preferred a chaplaincy, because he was “inspired with an impatience to be occupied in direct ministerial work.” “Do not enter the ministry if you can help it,” was the deeply sage advice of a divine to one who sought his judgment. If any student in this room could be content to be a newspaper editor, or a grocer, or a farmer or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a senator, or a king, in the name of heaven and earth let him go his way; he is not the man in whom dwells the Spirit of God in its fulness, for a man so filled with God would utterly weary of any pursuit but that for which his inmost soul pants. If on the other hand, you can say that for all the wealth of both the Indies you could not and dare not espouse any other calling so as to be put aside from preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, then, depend upon it, if other things be equally satisfactory, you have the signs of this apostleship. We must feel that woe is unto us if we preach not the gospel; the word of God must he unto us as fire in our bones, otherwise, if we undertake the ministry, we shall be unhappy in it, shall be unable to hem’ the self-denials incident to it, and shall be of little service to those among whom we minister.

I speak of self-denials, and well I may; for the true pastor’s work is full of them, and without a love to his calling he will soon succumb, and either leave the drudgery, or move on in discontent, burdened with a monotony as tiresome as that of a blind horse in a mill.

“There is a comfort in the strength of love;
‘Twill make a thing endurable which else
Would break the heart.”

Girt with that love, you will be undaunted; divested of that more than magic-belt of irresistible vocation, you will pine away in wretchedness.

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Certain good men appeal to me who are distinguished by enormous vehemence and zeal, and a conspicuous absence of brains; brethren who would talk for ever and ever upon nothing — who would stamp and thump the Bible, and get nothing out of it all; earnest, awfully earnest, mountains in labour of the most painful kind; but nothing comes of it all, not even the ridiculus mus. There are zealots abroad who are not capable of conceiving or uttering five consecutive thoughts, whose capacity is most narrow and their conceit most broad, and these can hammer, and bawl, and rave, and tear, and rage, but the noise all arises from the hollowness of the drum. I conceive that these brethren will do quite as well without education as with it, and therefore I have usually declined their applications.

Another exceedingly large class of men seek the pulpit they know not why. They cannot teach and will not learn, and yet must fain be ministers, like the man who slept on Parnassus, and ever after imagined himself a poet, they have had impudence enough once to thrust a sermon upon an audience, and now nothing will do but preaching. They are so hasty to leave off sewing garments, that they will make a rent in the church of which they are members to accomplish their design. The counter is distasteful, and a pulpit cushion is coveted; the scales and weights they are weary of, and must needs try their hands at the balances of the sanctuary. Such men, like raging waves of the sea usually foam forth their own shame, and we are happy when we bid them adieu.

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One brother I have encountered — one did I say ? I have met ten, twenty, a hundred brethren, who have pleaded that they were sure, quite sure that they were called to the ministry — they were quite certain of it, because they had failed in everything else. This is a sort of model story: — “Sir, I was put into a lawyer’s office, but I never could bear the confinement, and I could not feel at home in studying law; Providence clearly stopped up my road, for I lost my situation.” “And what did you do then?” “Why sir, I was induced to open a grocer’s shop.” “And did you prosper?” “Well, I do not think, Sir, I was ever meant for trade, and the Lord seemed quite to shut my way up there, for I failed and was in great difficulties. Since then I have done a little in life-assurance agency, and tried to get up a school, besides selling tea; but my path is hedged up, and something within me makes me feel that I ought to be a minister.” My answer generally is, “Yes, I see; you have failed, in everything else, and therefore you think the Lord has especially endowed you for his service; but I fear you have forgotten that the ministry needs the very best of men, and not those who cannot do anything else.” A man who would succeed as a preacher would probably do right well either as a grocer, or a lawyer, or anything else. A really valuable minister would have excelled at anything. There is scarcely anything impossible to a man who can keep a congregation together for years, and be the means of edifying them for hundreds of consecutive Sabbaths; he must be possessed of some abilities, and be by no means a fool or ne’er-do-well. Jesus Christ deserves the best men to preach his cross, and not the emptyheaded and the shiftless.

C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, No. 2

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Categories: Jack Hammer, The Ministry
  1. December 18, 2006 at 8:03 am

    How true this post is!

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