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Charles Spurgeon was an inspiring religious leader whose sermons helped many people to answer the most difficult questions concerning religion, life, death and their place in the world. The preacher was wise and thoughtful, kind and understanding. All his care is revealed in his sermons.
It is necessary to note that his guidance have been crucial for many ministers who find their inspiration in many of his works. One of his best-known books is Lectures to My Students that can be essential for novice as well as seasoned preachers and all those who want to understand what religion can mean to them.
One of the central themes of the book is the preacher’s behavior and attitudes. Spurgeon (1979, 7) claims that ministers are their “own tools” and they must keep themselves “in order”. This means that preachers have to pray and live a righteous life.
The author also stresses that sacrificing oneself is one of major characteristics of the profession and preachers have to be ready to devote their whole life to serving people and being the link between them and God. Another important theme that is closely connected with the one mentioned above is the role preachers play in this world. Spurgeon (1979, 25) stresses that ministers cannot be “self elevated”.
He also notes that only a true calling can make a preacher a true guide for others. Spurgeon states that the preacher has to have clear intentions and sound judgment that will help him make right decisions and help people find their way to god (Spurgeon 1979, 25). The minister has to remember that he is only a tool of God. He also should always train and the preacher has to remember that most training comes from God and reading holy books.
Importantly, Spurgeon (1979, 74) inspires ministers to remain truthful, as the truth is the only force that can bring people to God. The preacher cannot lie even if it can make explanations easier or comfort people at some periods of their lives.
Truth is the necessary tool that has to be used wisely but has to be used in all settings. Finally, the author stresses that the minister has to love God and love others. The theme of eternal love is central and Spurgeon (1979, 34) stresses that “love of Christ” can bring people together, can inspire them and can make them understand their place in the world.
The book in question is a source of a great deal of inspiration for me. I have learned a lot from it and, most surprisingly, while I was reading I felt that I knew it all along. I believe this is one of the book’s major advantages as it speaks to the reader’s heart. Clearly, I could sign under each line of the book as it is true to life. One of major points I totally support is the idea of the calling.
It is obvious that preaching cannot be a way to reach some earthly things, as respect or certain social status. Being a minister should be a call of an individual’s heart. The very first pages of the book focus on that matter. The author writes that “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” (Spurgeon 1979, 9).
It is crucial to make sure that an individual has the call to holiness. Otherwise, this preacher will be unable to help people around him and he will be an absolutely unhappy person. Another important point for me is training. I agree with the author that preachers have to “be always in training” as any other professionals (Spurgeon 1979, 93). Some ministers (especially those who have been in the profession for a while) stop their personal and professional development as they rely too much on the force of their calling.
Of course, ministers are tools in God’s hands, but they have to train to be appropriate tools (rather than rusty ones). More so, the author notes that some people may “pretend to have” the calling (Spurgeon 1979, 9). Hence, a man who does not have the sparkle inside of his heart and does not train to be a good preacher (to make good sermons, to help people by communicating with them, listening to them, comforting them) becomes a minister who brings harm to the people around him.
On the other hand, the preacher who is always trying to improve his skills in speaking, preaching, listening can become a true spiritual leader and help people. It is important to add that reading various texts is crucial for ministers both novice and seasoned ones. Even if it may seem that one knows the text by heart, it can be important to read it one more time, as this person will see some new aspects in the known texts.
New people appear in the minister’s life and he has new experiences. This affects the way texts are perceived. Of course, it is essential to share knowledge and especially new discoveries. The preacher may help many people by doing that.
Finally, I have to add that I totally agree with the author’s idea of being truthful in all circumstances. Spurgeon (1979, 20) stresses that “truth must not only be in us, but shine from us”. It is noteworthy that people often lie and they often lie to themselves. These lies accumulate and soon the person cannot even see the truth, he/she is afraid of truth, as this individual has long lived in the world of lies.
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The minister’s role is to bring the person from the darkness of lies. Truth is the only thing that can help people face numerous constraints of the world and it can also help people cherish their lives and what they have. Of course, sometimes truth can be painful but the preacher has to find the necessary words to make people understand that the truth is better than any comforting lies.
It is necessary to note that Spurgeon’s book has a very special effect on the reader. It is timeless and it can equip novice ministers with the necessary knowledge. The book is also a very inspirational piece of writing, which is important for both novice and experienced preachers.
The book occupies a very special place among other academic writings as it combines training, preaching and sharing certain experiences. The book contributes greatly to the field of pastoral ministry. It serves as a book to refer in the times of doubt and mistrust. Of course, practical advice included in the book is priceless and the tips provided in the book can rarely be found in other sources.
Spurgeon, Charles. Lectures to My Students. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1979.