Why So Few Men Enter The Ministry (William Perkins)

Why So Few Men Enter The Ministry

Perkins ProphesyingContinuing my series on William Perkins, I’d like to share why he believed so few young men enter into vocational ministry.  He gives three reasons (‘The Calling of the Ministry’ p 90-91):

1. The contempt with which the calling is treated.  To be pastor is to face contempt and hatred from those outside the church: “It is always hated by wicked and irreverent men because it reveals their filthiness and unmasks their hypocrisy” (p.90).  People hate having their sin exposed, and as a pastor your job is proclaim God’s holy Law, which reveals evil in human hearts.  Thus, if a person is faithful to God’s Word and seeks to preach it, he will be hated, just like Jeremiah, the prophets, and Jesus.

2. The incredible difficulty of the task.  “To stand in God’s presence, to enter into the holy of holies, to go between God and his people, to be God’s mouth to his people, and the people’s to God; to be the interpreter of the eternal law of the Old Testament and the everlasting gospel of the New; to stand in the place and even bear the office of Christ himself, to take the care and charge of souls–these consideration overwhelm the consciences of men who approach the sacred seat of the preacher with reverence and not with rashness” (p 90).  The task, when understood rightly, is glorious, weighty, and terrifying.  Thus many balk at it.

3. Poor financial recompense.  Unless you want to be false teacher and preach a prosperity gospel, you may face the challenge of a church not properly providing for you.  Many pastors struggle to provide for their family, even though Scripture argues that these men ought to be taken care of financially.  Perkins believed that many young men who could speak and write well chose instead to become lawyers: “The lack of such provision is the reason why so many young men with unusual ability and great prospect turn to other vocations, especially law.  That is where most of the sharpest minds in our nation are employed.  Why?  Because in legal practice they have all the means for their advance, whereas the  ministry, generally speaking, yields nothing but a clear road to poverty” (91).

Do you believe this is true today?

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