The Pastor’s Soul: The Call and Care of an Undershepherd, by Brian Croft and Jim Savastio. Welwyn Garden City, UK: EP Books, 2018, 160 pages, $11.99, paper.
The good pastor lovingly looks after God’s sheep; it’s his duty, and he stands accountable to the Lord for those entrusted to his care. He finds satisfaction in his work as he becomes involved in the lives of his people. At times he rejoices with them—at other times, he weeps. He instructs the disciple, admonishes the erring, comforts the suffering, counsels the perplexed, and offers gospel hope to the despairing. Since God is for his elect people, the faithful pastor is for them, too.
But even the most faithful pastor is in trouble when he forgets that he is also a sheep—a man in need of the shepherding care of God’s church. Sadly, the Christian landscape is strewn with ministers whose lives are in shambles. For many, it is an especially painful story because it is avoidable. Because in times of adversity, temptation, and discouragement, they chose to endure the hardship alone.
The pastor’s self-care begins by remembering his need: he is a sinner. Like the people he serves, he is susceptible to temptation and falling, beset by weakness, and entirely dependent upon the grace of God in Christ. Knowing this, he takes refuge in the Great Shepherd who provides pastors to care for all his flock, including him.
My own personal experience has taught me the danger of being a pastor without a shepherd. Every year I read one or two books aimed at strengthening the pastor’s self-care. This year, I read Brian Croft and Jim Savastio’s The Pastor’s Soul, and it was especially helpful.