Don’t Pastor People With A Book

Years ago I remember times where I tried to pastor people with a book. I’d hear someone’s need and then recommend they read a book that spoke to their struggle.

In the majority of those instances I was being lazy/selfish and asking a book to pastor the person rather than pastor the person myself—knowing them, loving them, caring for them.

I still recommend books all the time as I think reading is a critical component of discipleship (here’s a list of books we especially want in the bloodstream of our church). But I’ve matured a little bit, now knowing that a book can’t do what another person can do: listen, feel, weep, touch, discern, ask questions, give direct feedback, pray, prescribe, connect, care, etc.

Leaders, don’t pastor people with a book. Instead, shepherd people with yourself. The people of your city need to be personally known and loved, not simply prescribed a reading list or to-do list.

You don’t have to do all the shepherding your self. That doesn’t scale (and it’s prideful and deprives other people of important ministry. Remember Ephesians 4, that the work of a pastor is to equip others for the work of ministry). Instead you must equip leaders who can lead and love others and develop systems that ensure sheep are being shepherded.

There are no shortcuts to the kind of leadership/ministry/church life I try to describe here on this site. To create a community where people are known, loved, trained, and sent you must do the hard work of knowing, loving, training, and sending people. You can’t shortcut love.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Justin, this is a good word. Thank you. I was also wondering if you could tell us any more about the painting featured at the top of this post. Thanks.

  2. “You can’t shortcut love.”
    Honestly I do the same thing with my friends all the time. They tell me about a problem and I refer to my mental library to help them instead of just being present.

  3. These words are so very true. I often find myself in the same boat. I have come along way in this, but in a hasty situation, I still recommend books, sadly. What I fear more than anything is that I do not become like some people and recommend books without having read them first.

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