“Is there professional praying? Professional trusting in God’s promises? Professional weeping over souls? Professional musing on the depths of revelation? Professional rejoicing in the truth? Professional praising God’s name? Professional treasuring the riches of Christ? Professional walking by the Spirit? Professional exercise of spiritual gifts? Professional dealing with demons? Professional pleading with backsliders? Professional perseverance in a hard marriage? Professional playing with children? Professional courage in the face of persecution? Professional patience with everyone?”
Searching questions from the Preface to John Piper’s updated edition of Brothers, We Are Not Professionals.
What is professionalism? Professionalism is doing something because you’ve gotten good at it, good enough for people to pay you for it. It might not even feel that much like a job. But professionalism hollows out gospel ministry. Professionalized ministry flows out of a man’s own adequacy and gains for him a successful career. If you have a professional mentality, you will pray that God will bless your efforts. But if you have a biblical mentality, you will go beyond that. You will pray that God will do for you what only he can do, for the display of his glory alone.
I am glad Dr. Piper has reissued his book. This is the message we all must hear: “Professionalism is not supernatural. The heart of ministry is” (page x). I cannot possibly articulate how strongly I agree with that assertion. It is true, humbling, freeing, hopeful.
Christianity is all about the power of God coming down, through Christ, to bless the undeserving who receive him. Didn’t Jesus explain his ministry in terms of the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon him, to liberate people from long-standing evils (Luke 4:16-21)? And how did he accomplish that? By identifying with the power-brokers and playing their games and gaining some market share? No. Jesus wept. Jesus prayed. Jesus obeyed. Jesus loved. Jesus suffered and died. And power from on high came down.
Thank you, Dr. Piper, for insisting that “Professionalism is not supernatural. The heart of ministry is.” There are thousands of younger — and older — pastors around the world who read those words with a yearning we cannot escape, a yearning for more of the living Jesus in our ministries, whatever the cost.