John Piper. Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2002.
When Dr. John Piper published his book in 2002, he clearly intended for the audience of his book to be pastors. In fact, he states that the objective of the book is to spread “pastoral passion,” but this book is remarkably accessible (p. xi). This book is written directly to pastors, but every Christian can learn valuable lessons from Dr. Piper’s experience and godly wisdom. Personally, I was emboldened by Piper’s passion for the Word of God, encouraged to read more, and challenged to seek humility and flee from uncertainty.
It was immediately apparent that to John Piper, the Holy Scripture holds the highest level of importance. He quotes scriptures endlessly. He supports every claim with the Bible. Additionally, he is always very careful to use verses in context and gives background when it is required for full comprehension. Not only does Piper use scripture relentlessly, he also spends much of his time challenging readers to not allow for other things to take the place of scripture. This charge challenges me to be cautious with my reading, even with my reading in seminary. I must allow the Holy Spirit to speak to me about what I am reading. It must be the Holy Spirit that is my instructor not a human author. This is not to say that I should be skeptical of what wise people say, but instead that I should test everything with scripture. The scriptures must be my utmost standard for truth. But Piper’s challenge does not stop here; he also urges pastors to be careful to not let good ministry be a substitute for spending time reading and studying the word and praying. This can be a problem for me; I have a habit of letting ministry get in the way of my own study. I see that this is a problem, and Piper’s challenge is helpful in that I will be on the look out for this fox in my own spiritual life.
Another valuable lesson that I drew from this book is the importance of reading. I took Piper’s advice, and decided that I would spend at least 20 minutes a day reading his book. I was amazed at how quickly I had finished it. This was a valuable lesson to have learned and I believe that I will not forget it soon. I was also very interested in his advice to read biographies. I had never thought about the importance of reading biographies, but there was so much that I learned about being a good spiritual leader through quotes offered by Piper. I am definitely interested in getting into good biographies. I was also challenged to read good books over and over. I have a tendency to find value in the quantity of books that I read and not a good, thorough understanding of great books. I need to go back though some books and reread them.
And finally, the chapter titled “Brothers, Don’t Confuse Uncertainty with Humility”, floored me (p. 159). This is an area that I wrestle with daily. I am constantly trying to determine the correct way for me to relate to the world. Through Piper’s book, I have learned that I must be confident in the Truth that can be found in Christ, and I must be humble about myself. I am often too confident about my own abilities and end up speaking with too much love and not enough truth (which is not loving at all). I must confident in biblical truth and nothing else. And I must speak and live as though I have the truth and not merely a truth.
Even though this book is written directly to pastors, and discusses things that are specifically valuable to pastors, it is full of lessons for every Christian. Every Christian can benefit from focusing on the essence of worship, developing a passion for missions, studying difficult texts, and so on. This book is full of challenges that will stay with me for a long time.