Posted On September 16, 2019

Biographies in Pastoral Ministry

by | Sep 16, 2019 | Pastoral Care, Featured

Pastoral ministry is isolating and discouraging. Few people in your congregation understand what you face. For some, building relationships with other pastors is difficult because of schedule and other sundry reasons.

People may not be growing as you desire to see them grow. Your preaching and counsel seem to fall on deaf ears. There are seasons where the church needs to be led in a healthier direction, but you are the only one who sees it which causes friction.

Biographies can be a great aid in pastoral ministry. The lives of those who have gone before us encourage us and remind us that what we are facing is not unique.

Pastors also spend a lot of time with books. The Bible, commentaries, systematic theologies, and various other books. Pastors typically read a lot. Martyn Lloyd-Jones encourages pastors to read widely in Preaching and Preachers. You must read for your mind, soul, and pleasure. Biographies can help you read for your soul and pleasure.

Can I Be Personal?

I have focused most of my reading in 2019 on biographies, other than what I read for ministry. It has been refreshing. My mind has been rejuvenated. My energy for the work of the ministry has increased. And my understanding of human nature has increased. I have also seen again and again that there is nothing new under the sun. Things I go through someone else in history has also walked through. I’ve been able to learn from other’s mistakes and their successes.

What follows are a few of the benefits you will receive by spending some time reading an excellent biography.

A Source of Encouragement

In seasons when I have been discouraged biographies have been a great source of encouragement to me. Biographies have a way of refocusing our attention on what’s most essential and encouraging us to be faithful for the glory of God and the good of the people He has given you to shepherd.

Reading about Charles Spurgeon or Martin Luther encourages us that we can be faithful in difficult circumstances but that many saints who have gone before us faced difficulties much greater than our own. Spurgeon’s fight in the Downgrade is always a reminder to me that what I am going through, though difficult, is not as bad as I think it is which for me is always encouraging.

A Mental Break

An excellent biography provides a needed mental break. Pastoral ministry is a great deal of mental work. Even in areas others might not expect, such as pastoral, biblical counseling. That takes a great deal of preparation. If we do not give ourselves a mental break every now and then we are creating the atmosphere for burnout to creep in and take hold of us.

Biographies have a way of transporting you to another world, a past world in many cases. You begin to learn that nothing is really new under the sun. What you are walking through has been walked through before by countless others.

An Emotional Break

Additionally, biographies provide an emotional break. Reading about the life of Spurgeon will help us get our eyes off our situation and see that others have gone through similar difficulties and even worse than what we are facing.

They will also give us an emotional break because we can learn without being in the middle of the mess. Counseling is an essential work for the pastor, but it can also be physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining. It is rewarding but hard work. We often learn a lot about human nature through counseling, but it takes an emotional toll to learn this way.

Biographies teach us about human nature without having an emotional tie or investment in the situation. You can think through how you might counsel someone in this situation without being in the situation.

This invaluable emotional break will make you a better counselor but also preacher. Your increased understanding of human nature will help you in the counseling room and the pulpit.

What Type of Biographies Should You Read?

What kind of biographies should you read? The answer is it’s up to you. Since a biography is meant to refresh, you should choose those which pique your interest the most. I prefer reading about my favorite preachers and great historical leaders such as Presidents. Missionary biographies have been helpful as well.

Read for enjoyment. Read for pleasure. Read what interests you. There is no wrong answer here.

One type of biography that is a must is reading about other pastors. The encouragement and what you will learn is invaluable. I would especially encourage you to read biographies of other pastors if you feel isolated, don’t have a plurality of elders, or other pastors close to you.

Set a goal but start small. Who is your favorite preacher or world leader? Start there and see where it goes. You’ll be glad you did!

Related Posts

The Demands of Biblical Discipleship

The Demands of Biblical Discipleship

On today’s episode, a listener writes in and asks Dave, “What Does it Mean to Deny Myself and Take Up My Cross Daily?” What You'll Hear on this Episode The Terms of Discipleship. The Tradeoff of Discipleship. Subscribing, sharing, and your feedback You can subscribe...

Preaching as Christian Warfare

Preaching as Christian Warfare

On today's episode of For Life and Godliness, you will hear a lecture Drew gave on preaching as Christian Warfare. Subscribing, sharing, and your feedback You can subscribe to Life and Godliness via iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify. If you like what you’ve heard,...

How to Reach Our Progressive Friends

How to Reach Our Progressive Friends

Several years ago, I went through an intense time of doubt after my faith was rocked in a class led by a pastor who admitted he was an agnostic and who would later identify himself as a “progressive Christian.” At the time, I had never heard of progressive...

Five Attributes of God and Their Meaning in Scripture

Five Attributes of God and Their Meaning in Scripture

The Eternity of God Revelation 1:8 supports God’s sovereignty with three statements, the first of which expresses the eternity of God: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God.” God reigns over all since He is before and after all things. “The Alpha and the...

8 New Testament Passages That Support a Historical Adam and Eve

8 New Testament Passages That Support a Historical Adam and Eve

Luke 3:38 In one of the two New Testament genealogies of Jesus, Luke identifies Jesus as “the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli” (Luke 3:23). Luke proceeds to trace Jesus’s descent back to “Adam, the son of God”: Jesus, when he began his ministry, was...

Men as the Chief Repenters in the Home

Men as the Chief Repenters in the Home

On today’s Warriors of Grace show, Dave considers six ingredients for biblical repentance, men leading in repentance in the home, union with Christ, and biblical manhood. What You'll Hear On This Episode Six ingredients for biblical repentance. Union with Christ and...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.