Last week, as I was reading “Will you miss me when I’m gone?” I took note of an interesting passage. Some Hillbillies were remarking about preachers and saying that many who were called to preach could barely read. My impression was that these preachers claimed to not need any learning because they knew the Lord and had been called to preach. some things never change
Let’s be honest, as a pastor, I have a ridiculous amount of time to read and study. I have one of very few jobs where studying is near the top of my job description. Yet many of my fellow laborers in the ministry seem to take pride in their lack of book learning. In fact, as a group, pastors are some of the least read people I know.
I was reading in my devotions today where Paul was preaching to the pagans at Mars Hill and I noticed that he quoted their poets. It dawned on me again that he couldn’t have quoted their poets without first reading their poets and I think it’s reasonable to assume, based on context alone, that their poets weren’t writing Christian commentaries. Paul was, we can assume, widely read.
Fellow pastors, please stop taking pride in your lack of learning. Read books. Watch TED talks. Read novels and biographies and philosophy books and even self-help books. Listen to audiobooks while you sweep up or exercise. Be at least as well read as your banker or dentist.
And work hard at not being obnoxious about it. Don’t use bigger words than necessary. Don’t casually mention Kant or Kierkegaard to a group of people who have no idea who they were. Remember there is nothing so unimpressive as a self-important doofus talking over peoples heads. That’s not a sign of intelligence, it’s a sign of insecurity.
But do read. Do study. It’s easier than ever for people to tell you don’t know much. So keep the books open.