My Greatest Problem and How I Seek to Solve it

Some time ago we wrote a letter to twelve of our ministers requesting them to write a brief article for TORCH AND TRUMPET on the above theme. To make it easy for them to write freely on such a personal matter we promised that their identity would not be disclosed. The response was very gratifying, as the readers can know from the number of articles which follow in this symposium.

We take great pleasure in offering this material to our readers. Ministers wiD doubtless fead it with special interest. But members of our consistories, that is, elders and deacons, and even non-office-bearers will also peruse it carefully. There may be important lessons in these articles for all of us.

Let us add that in every instance we have selected the headings, endeavoring to summarize in each the leading thought of the writer.


The pressure ofsocial and community obligations

The greatest problem which I have as a minister is the pressure of social and community obligations. The Board of the Christian School stresses how important it is that I work with them. The Christian School principal asks me to speak in chapel regularly. The people want me to be .at every school function—graduation or sale. The minister is expected to attend every hymn-sing, program or lecture given in the church community. The minister should not only be a member of the Christian Reformed Ministers’ Group in the area, but also of the local city ministerial .association, influencing them for the good. My church people want me to visit regularly on Sunday evening, and even through the week for “that cup of coffee”; and many feel that I am failing as a minister if I do not visit constantly. It is true that none of these activities are mentioned in the letter of call. But people expect a minister’s participation in them. Perhaps they consider it to be included in that catch-all phrase found in the letter of call: “(and in ) all things pertaining to the work of a faithful and diligent servant of the Lord.”

Understand well, I know that all these activities are good in themselves. In fact, I even enjoy each one in its own way. But where does the time come from to do all this?

One possibility is to take away from the time spent with my family. As it is, I do not have very much time with my family, being gone almost every evening for catechism, consistory, family visiting, Societies, and visiting the sick and the delinquents. Some people have the idea that the minister should neglect his family so that he can fulfill these social and community obligations mentioned above; then the minister is really sacrificing for his work. To compound the difficulties of the situation, many have the idea that the minister’s wife should join her husband whenever possible in fulfilling these social obligations; and then she is a good minister’s wife, sacrificing for the cause. But what about my children, whom the Lord has given me to train in his fear? I believe with all my heart that I need enough time to train my children in the Lord’s ways. This idea of sacrificing my family for the sake of fulfilling these social obligations is repugnant to me. I entered the ministry with the spirit of sacrifice. But I do not think this involves neglecting my family so that I can fulfill social obligations. In fact, constant pressure by the community upon the pastor to sacrifice that which is important for these relatively unimportant activities tends to destroy the spirit of true sacrifice.

Another possibility would be to take time which otherwise would be spent in study or in visiting the sick and delinquent. Yet I would not feel right in doing this. I entered the ministry to preach and to minister the Word to the sick and erring ones: for this the Lord called me. To make two sermons each week and to visit the needy demands much time, and an alert mind. I find that social visiting and attendance at community functions not only consumes precious time, but often leaves me lethargic, since it is work to he under the eyes of the community, so that I am not able to use my study time to the best advantage.

I believe that the answer is to be found in doing “first things” first. Preaching and visiting the sick and delinquents, and the care of my own family come first. There will be some time left for social obligations, of course, hut not 50 much as to please many people. I must also decide before God which social and community obligations are the most important. My people must gradually learn from my example, and from an occasional opportune word, which things are first and which are second. I hope that gradually they will understand. But even if they do not understand I must do that which is right before God.




How can I preach with power?

My greatest problem as a minister is how to prepare myself each week to preach with pOweT.

To avoid misunderstanding let me say at once that I realize only the Holy Spirit makes any preaching dynamic. But I believe that as a general rule the Holy Spirit uses the preacher who has put forth an earnest and prayerful chart to preach with power.

I have heard sermons which seemed to leave the congregation cold. Glorious truths were presented in such a matter-of-fact way that they failed to interest or stir the soul. I have also heard sermons which gripped me and, I am sure, many others. Some led to a deeper conviction of sin and appreciation of the Savior. Others made one feel like getting right out in the world and fighting for truth and righteousness.

In my own preaching I have had somewhat the same experience. There are times when I do not seem to be able to get into my subject. I do not seem to be getting my message across. I have a feeling that I am not stirring the people. I have a wonderful text and a glorious truth, but” somehow or other the sermon seems to fall flat. It appears. to be a dud. At other times I feel that I am really entering into the spirit of it I have a very definite feeling of being inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit. There seems to be a very definite response on the part of tile congregation; even the young people and children listen intently.

The difference does not lie primarily in the amount of reading and study which has gone into the sermon, although I do realize that every sermon is worthy of thorough preparation in this respect. Nor is the difference to be sought exclusively in the prayerful preparation or lack of it, although this is of course a very important factor. I feel that the secret of preaching with power is to be found in the extent to which the truth to be preached has taken hold of the preacher. It has to live for him before he can make it live for others. Unless he is enthused about it, how can he expect his congregation to be.

I find that to prepare myself to preach with power r must get the truth into my system. It must permeate my soul and become part and parcel of my life. I must pray that God will grip my heart and stir my soul so that I may truly make an impact upon those that hear me. In this sense I find that preparing to preach is a strenuous and soul-searching task, and at the same time a most rewarding. experience. It is at those times, when my own soul has. been stirred to the depths, that I feel that the Holy Spirit is enabling me to preach with power. The reading and praying in the preparation of the sermon must therefore be· accompanied by much meditation and reflection.

I am not a man with exceptional gifts of intellect or eloquence. I believe that I should do my best along these· lines; preaching the Word is worthy of Our very best efforts. But I do not believe that great mental acumen or oratorical’ ability is essential to preaching with power. The essential thing is that the preacher has a living experience of the· truth which he wishes to present. This will manifest itself in an earnestness and sincerity which cannot but impress: those that hear him. The people will see how much the· truth means to him, what a rich source of comfort and inspiration it is in his life. This is the kind of preaching: the Holy Spirit is pleased to usc; this is the secret of preaching with power.


The danger of sterile professionalism

Perhaps it would be claiming a self-perceptiveness beyond that which I really possess to press the word “greatest”—for I may be wholly unaware of my greatest problem—but surely among the many problems I have encountered one of the most troublesome is how to escape the blighting curse of a sterile professionalism in the pulpit ‘The heat is on nowadays. Congregations clamor for polished pulpiteering. The airways fairly crackle with the productions of highly skilled preachers competing with the pastor in the local parish for the attention of the sheep. Odious comparisons by pew-piteers make for picayunish picking at spiritual food instead of hearty eating. And so the pastor—at least this pastor—feels that the pressure is on for professional shine. A concern for professional competence instead of a concern for faithful prophesying is the great temptation. More specifically, the problem is how to develop the art of preaching without giving way to mere professionalism.

The problem, I find, is a continuing one, not to be 61ed away under “Problems Solved.” But I have discovered some very useful antidotes, among which are these:

1. Weekly self-examination, in strictest honesty. The process is not always the happiest activity of the week, but surely one of the most necessary.

2. Re-examining the preaching situation before preparation for each worship service to see with renewed clarity the role of the preacher in the continuing conversation between God and his people. I find it most helpful, if at the .same time humbling, to recognize anew that the preacher is but a link -a link between God and the congregation. .a link which serves its purpose best by drawing least attention to itself. If the people are to hear God, and in hearing him to see him. then they ought not to hear the preacher. And if God is to hear the prayers of the people then the preacher’s prayers ought not intrude. In preaching the preacher must lose himself in the Word; in praying he must identify himself with the needs of the congregation. A moment spent once more reviewing these fundamentals just before entering the pulpit helps to set the stage psychologically.

3. Maintaining that kind of continual contact with the members of the congregation which makes for existential awareness of the spiritual needs of those to whom I minister so that the desire to “feed” overshadows the temptation to “perform.” Long live “Huisbezoek”!

4. Meditating on the ministry of the prophets and .apostles and seeking to identify myself with their ministerial activity. To carryon their selfless, unselfconscious labors on behalf of God and those to whom he would impart his grace is an inspiring challenge.

5. Occasionally reading the works of those who well understood the pastor’s mission and who themselves possessed a truly pastoral concern, e.g., The Ministering Shepherd, C. E. Jefferson; The Christian In Complete Armour, W. Gurnall; the sermons of Spurgeon; and not least the New Testament epistles.

If all these antidotes seem elementary it is but a reminder from experience that he who forgets the clementary safeguards against the adulteration of his ministry does so at great risk.


How to instill love for the Reformed faith

It is my conviction that next to the preaching of the Word the most important work a minister does is instructing the children and youth of the congregation. My great ambition throughout the years of my ministry has been to make the youth of the churches I have served see the glory of the Reformed Faith. This requires determined effort on the part of the teacher but also painstaking study on the part of our youth.

In my own youth it seems that there was more emphasis on knowing the answer to a question in the book than on the scriptural basis for the answer. Providentially I think the Lord led me in my youth to see the need of being able to prove our doctrine from the Word. One of the churches in my home town, under the guidance of its minister, turned to dispensationalism. This group alleged that we knew our creeds but not our Bible. This allegation actually stimulated me in the study of the Word to prove our point of view. And the more I studied, the more glorious I found the Reformed Faith to be.

During my college days, the Common Grace Controversy came, and it dawned on me, as I saw many turn from our denomination, that our people did not know their doctrine too well, and that therefore under the oratorical sway of a strong personality, people easily left their denomination and denied truths which had always been accepted among us. During this period a younger minister leaned strongly toward liberalism, and though he resigned, yet a year or so later, some who had fallen for his presentation arranged his return to deliver a series of lectures, which were by and large nothing but an attack, not only on the Reformed Faith, but on all orthodoxy. To me this was evidence that our people really did not know where they stood doctrinally, at least a very large number of them.

At the same time, college and seminary training developed in me a deepening conviction and love for the Reformed Faith. For me it was not only an intellectual pursuit but a way of living. With such convictions I entered the ministry. I wanted to preach and teach these unsearchable riches of the Gospel.

I wanted the older members to hold fast the faith once for all delivered unto the saints, but I wanted especially the youth to enjoy what I had discovered for myself. Thus

I undertook with real enthusiasm the teaching of our youth. Later, one of the young people whom I learned to know more intimately confided: “When you first came to our church we thought you were hard on us, but after we began to understand the truth, we realized you were imparting to us the most worthwhile thing in life.” An old grandfather in my next charge said: “I believe you want to make all our young people theologians.” In another church, after I had been there only a few months, a young man blurted out: “We never had a preacher who made us work as hard as you do.” Reactions have varied greatly to these efforts of imparting the grand verities of our faith. To the honor of every consistory I have been privileged to serve under, I want to say, they have always given me most loyal support. Likewise of parents I must say, that though all were not equally enthusiastic, yet generally they stood by me in helping their young people understand the truth.

The method I have followed in trying to attain the ideal is simple. yet exacting, both on the young people and on the minister. For one thing I have always insisted on memory work, not only answers but also texts to prove from the Bible that our Faith is grounded in the Word of God. I keep a record of their attainments in this work. Besides, I have. throughout the years given them mimeographed notes, explaining the lesson, with sets of questions that must be written out and handed in for grading each week. These questions are used as the basis -of discussion in class. After each five weeks, they submit to a written test. These papers too are carefully graded, and returned to them with report cards, which show the attendance, memory work, and writ~ ten work for the inspection and signature of the parents. In this way the young people know their achievements, and parents know exactly what is going on.

As to results of this effort, it may be said, that while we cannot look upon the heart, nor can we by education impart spiritual life to our people, we may have the satisfaction of having put forth our best efforts for the Lord’s cause. Besides, after a few years of labor in a congregation, young people do not come for special instruction in confession classes. They know what it is all about. And I may say that consistory members themselves have on many occasions remarked that young people gave a good account of themselves. I do not ask young people to recite the compendium, but rather to witness concerning their faith, their knowledge of the truth, and their attitude toward the cause of the Lord, and their assurance of faith.

I believe God has blessed these efforts I have been putting forth. I know it from letters received years later from those whom I have instructed. I therefore recommend it to my fellow ministers to try as a means of making the coming generation lovers and defenders of the faith of our fathers.


Acute problems relating to marriage

The greatest problem that I have encountered in my ministry is that which relates to marriage. I do not refer to my own marriage for we are very happily married. But I am thinking of a cluster of problems that have to do with marriage: problems with those yet unmarried, problems of those about to be married, and problems of those who are married.

First, the problems of those yet unmarried. I find an increasing insensitivity of our young people and their parents in respect to mixed marriages, especially in the urban areas of the churches in which I have served. I find it rather difficult to impress young people—and in some cases. their parents—that there is a great difference between those who call themselves Christians and those who are Christians indeed. Quite often, when the matter is discussed with a young person who is going steady with one who can rightly be called a non-Christian, the reaction is: “But he (or she) believes in God. He (or she) will go to church with me.” And in a number of these erases we do see the fellow or girl in church occasionally or even frequently during the time of courtship. The problem is usually aggravated because they have become quite serious in respect to their intentions before I become aware .of it. At that point reasoning is almost futile. The problem becomes even more complicated when the parents feel that the only course for the pastor to take is to win the nonChristian for Christ—as if it is just that simple!

I have had the problem of our young people who intend to marry Roman Catholics. Some, happily, have been dissuaded but others even went ahead and were married by a priest with all of the conditions specified by the Roman Catholic Church.

Then there are those who contemplate marriage with someone who has been unbiblically divorced. Besides, there are the forced marriages, the hasty marriages, and the marriages of those who are altogether too immature to assume the responsibilities of marriage.

There are also the problems of those married. There seems to me an increase of tension between husbands and wives. Various factors enter into married life which disrupt the relationship. An increase of working wives, drinking, and depreciation of home-life have been successfully used by the old Adversary of harmony in the home.

Only too often separation and steps taken toward divorce precede the pastor’s opportunity to counsel the persons concerned.

How am I seeking to solve this many-faceted problem of marriage and marital relations? First, I am seeking by means of instruction in catechism classes, society meetings, and pulpit to emphasize the Scriptural view of marriage and the obligations of the marriage partners. I repeatedly warn against. the dangers of mixed marriages and the need of recognizing the Lordship of Christ in the believer’s life, especially in the relationship of marriage. Second, I ask each unmarried young person in the examination for profession of faith to promise to seek one who is a genuine Christian for a life partner. Third, I seek to counsel young people personally concerning this matter. Fourth, I hold conferences with those about to get married and discuss at some length the demands and responsibilities of marriage in the light of Scripture. I refuse to marry anyone who is unwilling to seek earnestly membership in the Church. Fifth, I cry my best to discover and correct through the use of Scripture the troubles that threaten the marriage of couples.

believe preventive measures are more effective than corrective efforts; and even though I believe the problem will continue to call for much attention and labor, it will be increasingly solved for many along these lines.


The spread between recognition and realization

When a minister cries to put his finger on his greatest problem, he faces a wide field and a hard choice. One difficulty looms largest from one standpoint but from an. other angle another one is overshadowing. Even after making our choice we’re very open-minded toward others and rather eager to read what others offer.

To us it seems that the most impressive problem is posed by that enervating spread which we find in the church between our recognizing and our realizing of God’s truth, love, and challenge.

To be sure, what we have in mind is often closely related to formalism: “holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof” (II Tim. 3:5). Some will think here of hypocrisy; mask-wearing, putting on a false front. We’re thinking of something not always separable from these but still distinguishable.

What seems to happen? In saying, sermon, or song a clear-cut Bible truth comes to us and we give it a well-meant intellectual acquiescence. But within us the emotional and volitional Jag far behind the intellectual, and the truth we own fails of its right response in life.

We sing it, and in our thought we mean it too: “My sins are more than I can count, My heart has failed for grief.” But we sing it too nonchalantly. The feelings are so little moved and the will so little affected. We are so far from having that broken and contrite heart which Jehovah will not despise!

Again we sing it and our minds agree: “Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my life, my soul, my all.” It’s truly a moving song but both our inward feeling and outward doing are. all too unmoved by it. We sing it so casually as to leave us guilty!

Once more, we sing that deep prayer-line: “Hold o’er my being absolute sway” and we agree that it must be even so, for when you’re a Christian there is just no place to stop. But we need far more evidence that this concept is vivid in soul and visible in lives.

A member in good and regular standing said: “Oh, yes, our minister surely presents it well. But we don’t do it.” His final tone suggested that his conclusion was a matter of course. No wonder he was not a member in good and regular motion!

But how must we try to deal with this deep-going and widespread problem? With many limitations, but also many. prayers, we have tried to do these things.

In preaching we sought to emphasize clarity (also for children), relevancy, and contemporaneity; making it as “real” as we could.

We have tried to stress the “God’s-eye” view of this matter: how he keenly discerns and deeply detests undeepness and hollowness; how these discredit and retard his cause before the world’s sharp appraisal and downgrade our souls.

We have urged seeking ever the “maximums” of Christian living. “The more we put in, the more we get out” fits here supremely. Those putting their utmost into it are the happiest Christians.

We feel it urgent to earnestly and constantly keep our Christian faith “prayed-up,” well-fed, well-exercised, and well-guarded. Without that, coolness, formalism, and even hypocrisy are hard by!

A present and practical approach is to try always to get our living up to our singing, as f.i. “Take myself, and I will be, Ever, only, all for Thee.”

When we better realize what we recognize we have a mighty counter-actant to secularism, materialism, liberalism, and other besetting perils.


How to escape from the thralldom of professional routine

The Editors of TORCH AND TRUMPET are to be congratulated on this symposium, and thanked as well. To be invited to put into printer’s ink what before was dared to be put only in thought and prayer has led to more prayer; and that is a boon.

I was a bit put to it to isolate my greatest problem in the ministry. Essentially it is that my practice doesn’t conform to my ideals. There are no doubt many causes for this, but I nominate professionalism as the chief cause of spoilage in my ministry.

By this I do not mean that I am a mercenary. The sort of professionalism that troubles me is not the professionalism that works for the pride of commanding a salary. I think I would define it rather as much of a working for the work’s sake rather than for God’s sake.

There is too much of evaluating my work in terms of progress in the rough draft, the number of calls made, and efficiency in leading the meetings and classes. There is too much of doing mechanically what I have been trained to do, and then feeling that I am as proficient a servant of the community in my way as the doctor and the lawyer are in theirs,

I yearn for more spiritual force in my ministry. The holy joy that comes of working not so much out of duty only, but out of delight and love—of this I want more.

But I find myself too often slipping into the error of trying to justify my position in the ministry by thumbing the pages of an appointment pad, rather than in terms of souls touched with the sword of the Spirit.

And in my heart I know this will never do. My heart shudders at this. It would like to kindle fires with Elijah, but too often only routinely wafts temple-incense smoke with Eli.

I know, I think, where to find the torch.

I know I must spend more time on bended knee, rededicating self with ever renewed purpose not so much to a profession as to God. I do not want to discard entirely the concept of the minister as a professional man serving the community; I only want to feel more keenly that first he is an apostle in thralldom to Christ. It is in this relationship to God that I feel my ministry must be orientated, and in this I think I have the mind of Christ and of Paul.

Further, I know my sense of urgency must be constantly recharged. That man can never be a mere professional in the choice of texts, the calling and teaching, the praying which the ministry requires, whose heart is aHame with a sense of the urgency of it all, I have learned to pray almost daily—if I were in my place it would be daily—that I may ever remember what a great matter has been entrusted to me. When I hear God’s strong voice telling me to get on with the Gospel, and when I see the desperate, perishing world in need of the Gospel, routine is trampled in the rush. There is nothing like the joy of trying to introduce a poor sinner to a rich Saviour to lift a man out of professionalism.

And of course the solution to my problem is a matter also of the entempling of the Holy Spirit within. When he works, spiritual vigor flows into man’s work. This sacred Wind bloweth where it listeth; and may my little sails ever be unfurled to catch every breath of it. Anyone who has once or twice been becalmed will never hope for the experience again. Never is a minister more a mere professional than when he lies a-lee of something that obtrudes between him and the Breath of the Lord. I have learned to pray: “Spirit of God, dwell thou within my heart.”

Yet one thing: I have found that the more Christ means to me the more my ministry becomes personalized and “pastoral” as over against mechanical. The more Christ means, the more his people mean, the more his Word means, the more his cross means; and through all this, professionalism gives way to humble wonder and love.

And then I can no longer think of myself as a professional along with the doctor and the lawyer, but I am a minister again.

And so I see, in my better moments, that I may never be satisfied with having as much time with Christ, or as much love for Christ, as has the average member in my church. Nor may I be content to standardize my spiritual life at the level of the going rate of assurance, love, faith, knowledge, prayer, and penitence that I see in my church. My trust requires that the chariot wheels never drag, the sword never tarnish, and the sandals be ever dusty, And the humble self-denial required for this I find only in Christ my all. I must never get more than a moment away from Calvary, for the spiritual force I crave for both life and ministry is mine there.

The East

How to make the sermon a living message

One of the most difficult problems that a minister wrestles with is this; How am I going to make this sermon a living message that bores into the hearts of those who hear?

I wrestle with this problem in the making of every sennon. Some texb. of course, lend themselves more than others to the production of a sermon that hits home. And a passage of Scripture that has been especially meaningful to me and that has been the subject of rich meditation over a period of time also more readily becomes an effective message. But still the problem of bringing a living, telling message is a burden with every sermon.

The problem does not center particularly in the exegetical work that a sennon requires. Some faithful digging usually takes care of that phase of the work. This is a matter of the earnest use of certain tools of study that any well-trained minister has at his disposal, especially a working knowledge of the original languages of the Scriptures.

Nor is the problem so much one of doctrinal correctness. I would not be misunderstood. Every sermon must be doctrinally correct. That requirement may never be lightly considered. No passing fad or novelty, no reaching for superficial popular acclaim may in any way reduce the urgency of this requirement. Yet, a person reared in a Reformed home and trained in a Reformed seminary should not have too much trouble preaching sermons that are doctrinally sound.

A sermon requires solid exegesis and sound doctrine. These are an irreducible minimum, for it is the Word of God and nothing else that must be conveyed. It is this Word that the Holy Spirit uses to work faith and repentance and sanctification in the hearts of men. But something must be added to this central fact of God’s working. In thus using the Word as means unto the salvation of men the Holy Spirit is pleased commonly to work through the preaching of that Word. “It was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them thaI believe” (I Corinthians 1:21). “And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). In other words, the Word of God must usually be mediated through a dynamic, living experience of that Word. A redeemed, Spirit-filled personality, a God-mastered mind and heart and mouth must convey that Word to the minds and hearts of men.

Here lies the burden of the preacher. How can his personality be the medium by which God’s Word is so conveyed that those who hear are not the same after hearing it? How can he so bring that Word that sinners are arrested in their evil ways? that the mortification of the old man and the quickening of the new man is accelerated? that Christ’s own are inspired to work and to witness? that the kingdom of God will increasingly come in and through the lives of those who hear? Yes, how may the preacher’s person and work be more and more a pulpit of spiritual power and inescapable pertinence?

Here are some suggestions indicating ways along which I try to be what I have said the preacher should be.

1. Seek to gain a deepening and ripening understanding of God’s Word, realizing that this Word is indeed the God-given food and drink for the life of man. Crow into a finer consciousness of that living relevance of God’s Word which Jesus underscored when he said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

2. Be a faithful pastor. The inter-personal encounter between pastor and people through the Word is sharpened and refined as the pastor enters into the living situations of his people, sharing their joys and sorrows, sensing their fears and anxieties, dealing compassionately with their failures.

3. Develop a more penetrating appreciation for the subtle springs of human behavior. The pastor should avail himself critically and intelligently of those insights into human behavior that are afforded by pastoral psychology and psychiatry. Such insights, properly understood and evaluated, can contribute much to the pertinent preaching of the Word of God.

4. Make sure that no vanity of professional pride or pomposity undercuts the effectiveness of the ministry of the Word. The true preaching of the Word requires utmost sincerity and genuineness.

5. Be intelligently conversant with the social, economic, and political milieu in which the Word is preached. The Word is not proclaimed in a vacuum or from ivory towers, but in a vibrantly living situation where many and diverse forces are at work.

6. Participate actively and regularly in family life and family fun. Such activity in the minister’s personal life will help him to keep the preaching of the Word from beginning a barren intellectualistic exercise.

7. Always before entering the pulpit offer an earnest prayer that God may overrule the failures and shortcomings of the preacher and bless the proclamation of His Word unto its intended purpose.

Grand Rapids

The problem of having too much work

Many people think that a minister has few, if any, problems. They feel that he leads a rather sheltered life. There may be some truth in this. As a rule, a rather comfortable home is provided for his family. His salary may not be too large, but at least he is sure of a regular income. He does not have to go out every morning and rub shoulders with the cruel, hard world. All these things and many more ought to be deeply appreciated.

However, he does have a host of problems that are peculiar to his calling. He is constantly engaged in spiritual things and it is so easy to take them for granted. He does not have to punch a time-clock and no one watches his schedule and so it is so easy to waste time. As a normal human being, he yearns for fellowship; but he must be careful to have no “favorites” and to show no partiality. He must be sensitive to good, constructive criticism; but he must not be swayed by pressure or allow fault-finding to get him down. All these are only suggestive of a long list of other things.

I am not sure that I could speak of any of these as “My Greatest Problem.” Frequently, however, I am deeply puzzled about the matter of time. How can I find enough time to accomplish all that ought to be done? The minister may not have a definite schedule arranged for him and at times he may find it difficult to follow one; but if he is conscientious, he faces a very heavy schedule. The preparation and delivery of two good sermons a week is a big task in itself. He must keep up with his studies and the problems of the day. Pastoral duties and private counseling are time-consuming to say the least. There are catechism classes and don’t forget the different societies that clamor for his attention. There are certain social functions that must be attended to, such as weddings, anniversaries, and several others. He must also take his share of  “the care of all the churches.” It is just impossible to complete the list.

What must a minister do in the face of aU these things? He must learn to sift the list and determine what is most important. It is obvious that he cannot do all these things. Let rum learn to do that which is most essential. Here he must be careful not to confuse that which is essential with what he likes the best. Then he must tackle these duties in a systematic way. Nothing is so destructive as a haphazard method. A little here and a little there, with no definite attack, accomplishes nothing.

Even when one works systematically, diligently, and faithfully, he will find that there are many things that remain unaccomplished. This may become a heavy burden and by worrying over it, he may become unfit for the work altogether. This is a great mistake. A wise physician once said to me, “If you do all you can, the Lord expects no more and no one else has a right to do so.” Get others to help you. The church is anemic today because there are so many who have nothing to do in the kingdom of God.

All this “busyness” increases the tendency to neglect one’s personal devotions. This should never be. the case. A wise clergyman once said, “The busier I am, the more time I take to spend with my Lord. Then, if ever, I feel the need of it….How right he was. There is nothing so refreshing and invigorating as quiet fellowship with our Lord. It helps bear the burden of the day and gives quiet wisdom for the many problems.

I have also found that in the midst of all this activity there is a great need for relaxation and recreational activities. It is still true that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Don’t overwork! Then you will have a breakdown and the cause will suffer a great loss. Learn to work within the limits of your abilities and energies. Keep physically fit. You owe it to your work and to your Lord.