Book Notice: “The Pastor’s Guide to Leading & Living” by O.S. Hawkins

You can take this to the bank: O. S. Hawkins is a good man whose many years of faithful ministry has earned him a hearing. Hawkins, currently the President and C.E.O. of Guidestone Financial Resources, recently published The Pastor’s Guide to Leading & Living (Thomas Nelson, 2012), in which he brings to bear 20 years of experience as a pastor in order to encourage pastors in their calling. In his view, “the pastor has been given by the Sovereign Lord the highest calling in God’s economy. It is not a vocation to be chosen among several options. It is a divine supernatural calling from the Lord” (p. 5).

To explicate the nature of this calling, The Pastor’s Guide addresses the personal and ministerial facets of a pastor’s life. Hawkins examines topics such as the pastor’s purpose, power, prayer life, priorities, and parenting (to list a few). His commitment to the integrity and significance of pastoral ministry is clear, and his heart for pastors is admirable. Most of all, he desires for pastors to know whom they serve: “Pastor, you do not have a ministry. It is not yours. You are a steward and an ambassador. You have received a ministry from the Lord Jesus” (p. 9). Hence, this book makes a helpful primer for those considering pastoral ministry.

N.B. All royalties from book sales will go to Mission: Dignity, a charitable fund that aids retired pastors and widows who are in financial need.

Charles Spurgeon on Leadership (4): Seven Lessons on the Minister’s Calling

A Christian leader must first be led by God before he can lead oth­ers. The principal foundation of leadership is our life of faith, based on our personal relationship to Jesus Christ. “Brethren, you are not meant for anything but God; therefore, surrender yourselves to God, and find in Him your wealth, your honour, and your all.”

An ounce of personal testimony is worth more than a ton of heavy theology. Spurgeon’s spiritual conversion was so profound that it be­came the primary motivation of his life as a Christian leader. From that time, his commitment was to witness to the salvation he experienced, that others might be brought to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

A good leader is true to his theological convictions. Spurgeon’s will­ingness to part company with his family over the issue of baptism as a teenager was indicative of the manner in which he always approached matters of faith. If he were convinced that something was correct ac­cording to the Scriptures, Spurgeon was willing to stand alone against those who differed with him. The pain of the “Downgrade Controversy” is a clear example.

A leader’s effectiveness stems directly from one’s spiritual com­mitment. Spurgeon was convinced that the nature of a leader’s own faith commitment determines his effectiveness in ministry. “True and genu­ine piety is necessary as the first indispensable requisite; whatever ‘call’ a man may pretend to have, if he has not been called to holiness, he certainly has not been called to the ministry.”

Leaders persevere. Spurgeon believed that Christian leaders should persevere in their calling. He decried those who left the ministry for other pursuits: “For us to turn aside from our life-work, and to seek distinction elsewhere, is absolute folly; a blight will be upon us, we shall not suc­ceed in anything but the pursuit of God’s glory.”

A leader will not take you farther than he’s gone himself. Spurgeon believed that continued spiritual development is essential for increased effectiveness in leadership. “Let this be the burning passion of your souls. Grow to be leaders and champions.”

Spiritual growth is the measure of a leader’s continued impact on his followers. Spurgeon demonstrated his commitment to spiritual growth as a leader in four specific areas-by being prayer empowered, faith filled, Spirit led, and servant driven. “Be sure that you are with God, and then you may be sure that God is with you.”