Friday, February 13, 2009

Review of The Work of the Pastor by William Still

Author: William Still

Pages: 152 pages

Publisher: Rutherford House

Price: 4.89

Genre: Pastoral/Preaching

Quick Summary:

The Work of the Pastor is a compilation of five addresses given by William Still in the 1960’s. The fundamental cry of Still’s heart is that the pastor might see his work as feeding God’s sheep the Word of God. It sounds rather obvious and yet it is a much neglected practice. The pastor can be tempted to be about the business of many “good” things but neglect the most important—caring for the sheep.

What Still is aiming at in all five of these messages can be summed up by this quote, “If you think that you are called to keep a largely worldly organization, miscalled a church, going, with infinitesimal doses of innocuous sub-Christian drugs or stimulants, then the only help I can give you is to advise you to give up the hope of the ministry and go and be a street scavenger; a far healthier and more godly job, keeping the streets tidy, than cluttering the church with a lot of worldly claptrap in the delusion that you are doing a job for God. The pastor is called to feed the sheep, even if the sheep do not want to be fed. He is certainly not to become an entertainer of the goats. Let goats entertain goats, and let them do it out in goatland. You will certainly not turn goats into sheep by pandering to their goatishness. Do we really believe that the Word of God, by His Spirit, changes, as well as maddens men? If we do, to be evangelists and pastors, feeders of sheep, we must be men of the Word of God.” (9, 10)

Everything else that Still says in this book stems from the fundamental statement—“The pastor is called to feed the sheep, even if the sheep do not want to be fed.” Throughout this work Still shows exactly what he means by feeding sheep. He shows what this means inside the pulpit as well as outside the pulpit.

What I Liked:

I had never heard of William Still or his ministry prior to picking this book up off of Monergism for under five bucks. I actually assumed it was written in the seventeen or eighteen hundreds, and because of Still’s focus on the Word it very much feels as if it was. Because the Word of God is always relevant this booklet by Still is always relevant—calling pastor’s to do their job of feeding the sheep.

William Still “brings it” in these five messages. He does not shy away from confrontation or mince words. He tells it as it is. As Still tells pastors to “preach the Word” he is giving us a visible demonstration of what he means, throughout these five addresses Still brings us the Word of God. At times it cuts like a knife. At other times it comforts and encourages. What an excellent little book this is.

What I Disliked:

At times I think Still might be a tad prone to simplism. It is true that the Word is sufficient, but the Word must be handled correctly. This is, perhaps, not a knock on Still’s addresses but rather our fallen condition—we are prone to simplistic answers. And “only preach the Word” can be a license to the lazy or self-protecting pastor to not engage the difficulties of the pastorate.

Another difficulty in this book is its language. Still is, I believe, a Scotsman. And as such he speaks as a Scotsman. The lengthy quote above reveals the sometimes difficult and jam-packed language that Still uses. Yet, this is also one of the books great strengths. It is poetic and beautiful but sometimes the wording trips you up.

Should You Buy It?

There are few better uses for a five dollar bill than this book. Even if this little book were ten dollars I would still recommend it. What Still has to say in this book needs to be heard by pastor’s today as much as it needed to be heard in the 1960’s. Buy a copy today.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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