Augustine’s Pastoral Heart

I found this great quote in Augustine’s On the Catechizing of the Uninstructed this evening; it well expresses the heart of a shepherd of God’s flock:

“A sense of weariness is also induced upon the speaker when he has a hearer who remains unmoved, either in that he is actually not stirred by any feeling, or in that he does not indicate by any motion of the body that he understands or that he is pleased with what is said. Not that it is a becoming disposition in us to be greedy of the praises of men, but that the things which we minister are of God; and the more we love those to whom we discourse, the more desirous are we that they should be pleased with the matters which are held forth for their salvation: so that if we do not succeed in this, we are pained, and we are weakened, and become broken-spirited in the midst of our course, as if we were wasting our efforts to no purpose.”

There is nothing more discouraging to a pastor-teacher than to sense that his words are having no effect. But God is sovereign; as Knox Chamblin was wont to say in class at RTS, the same sun that melts butter hardens clay. Augustine puts his finger, however, on a very real source of pastoral depression. We pastors need to trust God, believe His promises (that His word will do what He sends it to do, even if that is to harden; cf. Isaiah 6!), and be diligent to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit.

On the latter, every preacher needs to pick up the little booklet Preaching in the Holy Spirit, by Al Martin, published by Reformation Heritage Books. Convicting and powerful.



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