“Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor” by D.A. Carson

Highly Recommended. D.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has taught since 1978. He has served as a pastor and has done itinerant ministry in Canada and the United Kingdom. He is an active lecturer in academic and church settings and has authored or edited more than forty-five books.

There is no greater challenge for a pastor than to come to terms with the prospect of becoming merely ordinary. Many men step into ministry with high expectations—thoughts of crowded pews, large church buildings, and book deals that collude the reality of what Christ has called them to actuallydo. That is, in a nutshell, to live an ordinary life that has eternal affects; few are able to escape worldly expectations and realize that a Godly calling rarely resonates with earthly successes. That is why I absolutely loved this book, or memoir, and how it indirectly sits on the de-sensitized conscience of the reader.

This was a splendid biography of an ordinary man. Tom Carson, D.A. Carson’s father, was a pastor in Canada who purposely moved to a French-speaking area for the sake of ministering to the ostracized. The French-Canadians had a difficult history in Canada and though the population was stagnant, Tom found in them a need for Christ. This memoir outlines his joys and his struggles, his peaks and his valleys, all to reveal the absolute blessing of serving Christ and His people. He leads a life that seems contradict worldly wisdom but is a model to all Christians.

Beyond the pastorate was Tom’s greatest ministry, which was to his family, and the greatest testimony throughout the book was the commentary written by Tom’s children. Their comments about their own father and his faithfulness to the Lord was what truly stood out. Never complaining through seemingly endless struggles, Tom maintained a household that was encouraging and gracious. And the end of the book, well, it had me on the brink of tears. The end of the book had me hoping that I could one day live and die the way Tom Carson had; but I’ll leave that part for you to read on your own.

I was looking for a book that could humble me and shift my prideful view of ministry. In lieu of some other books that are written specifically for the issue of contentment (i.e. Christian living books), this memoir was actually more effective in making me re-evaluate my life than any other book on contentment could have. It was humbling. It was downright real. It was shocking how extraordinary this ordinary pastor really was, though not in the eyes of this world. It made me realize that my goal as a minister of Christ is to stand before God one day knowing that I had done all I could to honor God in my life and guide his people well. That being said, I would recommend this book to anyone who might be leaning towards going into ministry. It’s an honest look into the life of a faithful pastor, one who had the genuine and worthy goal of glorifying God and rightly shepherding His children. Selflessness and humility are merely words thrown around at church and in seminary, but you can’t really know how that plays out in ministry unless you’ve experienced it. Here, D.A. Carson gives us a glimpse of what that experience should be like.

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