I am often asked, “What do pastors do?”  Everyone knows we preach, conduct funerals, counsel, and officiate weddings (at least for the time being). Yet pastors are tasked with so much more than meets the eye. One of the things that goes unnoticed by most people is how much reading a faithful pastor is charged with day to day. Most assume we read the Bible. This is a good assumption, and a pastor who is not reading the Word of God as his primary diet is failing on the job. Yet, there is more to read than the Bible. And though it seems time does not afford much of it, reading outside the Scriptures helps to develop the thinking processes and exposes the pastor to the thoughts and wisdom of other God-gifted and thoughtful people.

A regular question you should ask your pastor is, “What are you reading these days?” Some pastors may shy away from this question because they are not as diligent in this discipline as they should be. And while I don’t always read as widely as I should or desire to, I am frequently reading a number of books for my own edification and in my on-going discipling of others (which is another responsibility the pastor is tasked with). This summer I have been reading several books that I have found both personally edifying and useful in sharing with others. I share them with you in hopes of encouraging you to read and share your reading as well.

The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel. This is a classic Puritan work. The Puritans are always worth our time. Yes, they had their faults and blind spots. And it is important that you know those areas of inconsistency. However, don’t allow that to keep you from accessing the wealth of biblical riches contained in their writings. The Mystery of Providence is filled with biblical insights into the glorious doctrine of the providence of God. Few doctrines advance comfort in the soul like reflecting on what the Bible says about God’s loving care and provision for his creation in general and his elect in particular.

The Pastor and Counseling by Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju. As a pastor, rarely do I feel as inadequate as I do when I am counseling others in difficulties of life. And yet, few times are as joy-filled as when I witness the impact biblical wisdom has on a heart desiring to understand God’s desire for them. Pastoral counseling is a difficult joy. This book is an excellent recent resource for equipping pastors to shepherd the souls in their care. I am reading this through with the elders of our church and have found it most encouraging. There are highlights and comments on nearly every page of my volume. It will no doubt be a tool we return to again and again for the health of our leadership and church.

The Ministry by Charles Brown. This small treatise on the ministry packs a big punch in relatively few pages. Charles Brown wrote from the perspective of a Presbyterian pastor in Scotland during the mid-nineteenth century. Yet most of his thoughts and pastoral insights are as relevant today as they have ever been. I am currently reading this with a group of men at our church as we talk through the implications of church ministry in general and pulpit ministry in particular. For some reason I often find that the shortest books usually have the most lasting impression. Hmmm.

Reviving the Black Church by Thabiti Anyabwile. Sorry, this is book is not yet in print, though it is available for pre-order on Amazon :). I have the blessed pleasure of reading a pre-release version and can’t wait for its publication this coming fall. Thabiti is a dear friend, fellow-worker, and pastor to me. Every time I think my appreciation for him could not grow any more, he writes something that just makes me what to thank God for him all over again. This book is not only well-written (though, I would not expect anything less), but it is timely and insightful. He reminds me of the church that nurtured us, that we love, and we desire to see be all it can be.

Well, there you have what is principally on this pastor’s reading list. I have no doubt that others will be added real soon. In fact, as I write these last few lines there is a book sitting on my desk that is calling my name. I believe I will answer. What about you?

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  • Avatar Tom Brainerd says:

    Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.


    Do you read hardcopy or e-pub of some type?

    Do you mark it up? Take notes?

    Christ’s blessings on you, family and flock.

  • Avatar Tony Carter says:

    Hey Tom, good to see you on the Porch again! As far as books are concerned, the majority of my reading is from printed books. Though my library of ebooks continues to expand and I love the convenience (I am currently reading Flavel’s book on my iPad), having a book in my hands still remains my preferred method of reading. And this is primarily for reasons expressed in your second question. I generally read with pen or pencil in hand (highly recommend it). I underline frequently and like to write in the margins of my books. This assures that I stay engaged and follow the arguments to agreement or disagreement.
    Blessings to you and yours as well.

  • Avatar Louis Love says:

    Hey Brother
    I was a reader before I met you, but since knowing you I read better stuff. Praise God for you, my brother.

    I’m currently reading in bits and pieces and with others:
    The Glory of Christ, John Owen, Logos version
    Loving Christ and Fleeing Temptation, Andrew Gray
    The Compelling Community, Jamie Dunlop, Mark Dever
    The Ministry, Charles Brown
    Concerning the True Care of Souls, Martin Bucer
    and of course Reviving The Black Church, my man Thabiti

  • Avatar Tony Carter says:

    Amen brother. The encouragement has been mutual – iron sharpening iron. The Ministry by Brown is indeed an interesting little book. He is quite opinionated which makes for great conversations with the young brothers in ministry. We are finding it a great help.

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