Getting out of bed on Monday is a grumpy chore, and overcoming the cloudy-headed daze that almost always characterizes the second day of the week requires a lot of coffee and even more determination. Mondays are hard for us all, but they are particularly difficult for pastors because they have to come down from the “Sunday high.” It’s something few can identify with, but for most pastors it’s a haunting reality that accompanies a litany of stressors like dealing with divisive people, balancing the budget and leading difficult staff members. As a result, a lot of young pastors are desperately hungry for someone older and wiser to walk with them over the mountains and through the valleys of church ministry.
For decades, as an author, poet, pastor and educator Calvin Miller has been a lively and creative voice in the church. Having survived some of the most tumultuous decades of evangelicalism, his latest book, Letters to a Young Pastor (David C Cook), shares his wisdom and experience, his successes and his scars, to help today’s young pastors fulfill their calling…and maintain their sanity. In this humorously authentic collection of letters, he encourages young pastors to fight the good fight, stay the course and keep their eye on the Author and Finisher of the faith—no matter how frustrated they may feel.
Letters to a Young Pastor offers every young pastor an invaluable mentor with a heart for sharing his hard-won insights with those who enjoy the victories and carry the burdens of the pastorate. Dr. Miller’s appeal to young pastors lies not in his overwhelming successes, but simply in the fact that he’s been there and done that. As Dr. Miller says, “The all-time great reason that you should listen to me is that much of what I write about in this book is written from the edge. Ministry is not for sissies, and the requirement of the tough times brings us to the edge of our commitment.”
Regardless of the situation, Dr. Miller’s creative and cordial counsel poetically prods pastors along the path of ministry. To the young pastor struggling with the validity of his calling, Dr. Miller advises, “Young minister of God, keep that little sparkle in your eyes, and then write down how your call came to you, and when you’ve written it down in fire, defend it that way.” For those wrestling with conflict, Calvin challengingly suggests, “Cowards are never good at teaching courage.” Even the pastor who’s not sure whether he’s promoting God’s vision or his own image finds these wise words from Dr. Miller: “This is the foundation of significance: Settle on your vision, and your image will be authentic. But pursue image, and you may miss your vision altogether.”
Many things have changed over Dr. Miller’s pastoral years, from switchboards to smartphones and big-haired evangelists to cigar-smoking emergents. But two things remain the same—God is love and people are broken. Letters to a Young Pastor is a warm, honest and often humorous collection of letters to young pastors and leaders, encouraging them to love Sundays, fight through Mondays and look forward to the day when they’ll hear that great “Well done.”
About the Author: Dr. Calvin Miller’s first full-time pastorate was at Plattsmouth Baptist Church in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, from 1961-1966. He went to Westside Church in Omaha, Nebraska, in January 1966, where he served as senior pastor for 25 years. During his pastorate the congregation grew from ten members to more than 2500 members. From 1991-1998, Miller served as Professor of Communication and Ministry Studies and Writer-in-Residence at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas. In January 1999, he joined the faculty of Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, where he is currently Professor of Preaching and Pastoral Ministry.
He is the author of more than forty books of popular theology and inspiration. His poems and free-lance articles have appeared in various journals and magazines such as Christianity Today, Campus Life, Leadership and His. He has served as an inspirational speaker in various assemblies and religious convocations, both in his own denomination and other Christian gatherings.