Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry

ISBN: 0805426205
ISBN 13: 9780805426205
By: John Piper

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About this book

A senior pastor pleads with his colleagues to abandon the secularization of the pastorate and return to the primitive call of the Bible for radical ministry.

Reader's Thoughts

Lindsay Kennedy

Excellent collection of essays. Not only for pastors or those in ministry. Many of the essays are very challenging and enlightening.

Joseph Louthan

I know. Five stars. Five stars says : Crème de la crème. Why did I rate this so high? Because I believe the author accomplished what he sat out to do and did it in a fantastic way.Imagine my perspective: Newly saved, called to be a pastor, has barely started on the path to becoming a pastor and by God's grace, I read this book.This is clock-filled with not only practical after practical insight to undo the executive, CEO business mindset of the American Evangelical megachurch of the last 50 years but it is a higher call to change our mindset of what we are called to do. My friends, this is not another job and I get sick when I see people treating this like it is job. Do we not see the qualifications of an elder in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1? Are we to have the mentality to know nothing except Christ and Him crucified? Are we not charged in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching?The calling of a pastor is not just another job. The church staff is not another corporate ladder to climb. Your end is not to get to the “top” but rather, run the race that is set before us and keep our eyes on the finish line, that is, Jesus Christ who is the author and finisher of our faith.This book is perfect for the newbie pastor-to-be.This book is perfect for the grizzled old veteran.This book serves well for all the saints who are looking to do the work of the ministry.Brothers and sisters, we are not professionals. We have been called to behold the absolute truth and it is our faithful duty to reveal the timeless beauty of God. If we heed to what the Scriptures tell us, we know that we desperately need his Spirit to carry out the gospel of Christ for the glory of God and our joy until Christ comes and gets us or we drop six feet into the ground.May God help us all. Amen.

Richard Minor

Being a pastor is different than being in the professional world. Secularization of the pastorate has caused great damage.The pastor has an impossible mission to accomplish because, as Piper notes well, the true goals of the ministry are only accomplished by the power of God. This makes being a pastor radically different.This book contains short essays on many topics for a pastor to know and understand. These essays, for the most part are excellent and a much needed corrective in some cases.This is a very good book for pastors to read and really think through.

David Eagen

I agree with the review from Scott that this is essentially Piper's Greatest Hits. The title of the book is merely taken from the first chapter and is slightly misleading. The entire book does not talk about the professionalism trap. Rather the book is Piper reaching out to pastors and passing on the wisdom he has gained through a lifetime of labor. I found the following chapters particular interesting:Chapter 5: "Brothers, Beware of the Debtor's Ethic"Chapter 6: "Brothers, Tell Them Not to Serve God"Chapter 12: "Brothers, Bitzer Was a Banker" - Discusses the importance of using the original languages. Chapter 26: "Brothers, Sever the Root of Racism" - Piper talks about the recentness of racism evidenced by the 1920 Duluth Lynchings and James Byrd. He says: "Most of the Christians in the majority white culture never even think about the issue. That is not a sign of peace but of obliviousness".

Brian Algie

An easy and important read for anyone in or planning on entering the ministry. The chapters are short enough and laid out in such a way that you can read a chapter or two and come back to it later. Some chapters will be review while other chapters will hit you between the eyes and cause some action in your steps. The version I read is older while the newer one has about six more chapters.

Luis Branco

It is a must read book to all pastors and seminary students. A beautiful description of what ministry is all about. Loved it!

Jeff Elliott

Piper's thinking is clear and solid in his message to pastors. Some chapters are better than others (this is most likely because of my personal interest in them). I appreciated the earlier chapters better than the latter. He writes on a number of topics of value: preaching, prayer, worship, marriage, abortion, bible interpretation, etc;...Some quotes:The peace and satisfaction of our aching souls—and our hungry churches and the waiting nations—flow not from the perks of professional excellence but from the pleasures of spiritual communion with the crucified and risen Christ.There is an infinite difference between the pastor whose heart is set on being a professional and the pastor whose heart is set on being the aroma of Christ,(p. 3). many people are willing to be God-centered as long as they feel that God is man-centered. It is a subtle danger. We may think we are centering our lives on God, when we are really making Him a means to self-esteem. Over against this danger I urge you to ponder the implications, brothers, that God loves His glory more than He loves us and that this is the foundation of His love for us. pp. 6-7). the goal of spiritual leadership is to muster people to join God in living for God's glory.(p. 11). One way to highlight the meaning of God's holiness is to compare it with His glory. Are they the same? Not exactly. I would say that His glory is the shining forth of His holiness. His holiness is His intrinsic worth—an utterly unique excellence. His glory is the manifest display of this worth in beauty. His glory is His holiness on display.(p. 13). God would be unrighteous and unreliable if He denied His ultimate value, disregarded His infinite worth, and acted as though the preservation and display of His glory were worth anything less than His wholehearted commitment. God acts in righteousness when He acts for His own name's sake. For it would not be right for God to esteem anything above the infinite glory of His own name.(pp. 13-14). For God to be righteous, He must devote Himself 100 percent, with all His heart, soul, and strength, to loving and honoring His own holiness in the display of His glory. (p. 14).Everything in our salvation is designed by God to magnify the glory of God. (p. 14). His holiness is the absolute uniqueness and infinite value of His glory. His righteousness is His unswerving commitment always to honor and display that glory. And His all-sufficient glory is honored and displayed most by His working for us rather than our working for Him. (pp. 14-15).This is why justification by works would not put an end to boasting. If you work for your justification, what you are doing is trying to put God in your debt. And if you succeed in getting God to owe you something, then you can boast before men and God. If you worked for justification and you succeeded, you would not get grace, but a wage. God would owe it to you. (p. 25). When faith is born in the soul, we are still ungodly. Faith will begin to overcome our ungodliness. But in the beginning of the Christian life—where justification happens—we are all ungodly. Godly works do not begin to have a role in our lives until we are justified. (p. 26).Gratitude is a species of joy which arises in your heart in response to the goodwill of someone who does or tries to do you a favor.(p. 36). Whenever we experience joy, it is because our hearts have esteemed something we regard as valuable. The cause of joy is always a perceived value. The greater the value to us, the greater our joy in receiving it. But not only that. All joy is gregarious. It has in it a demonstrative impulse. It likes to gather others around and savor the value together. Is it not a psychological impossibility to feel intense delight in something good yet feel no impulse to demonstrate to others the value which caused that delight? (p. 36).Any attempt to express a gratitude by paying God back would contradict the nature of His gift as free and gracious.(p. 38). Disinterested performance of duty displeases God. He wills that we delight in doing good and that we do it with the confidence that our obedience secures and increases our joy in God. (p. 48).the heart is ripped out of worship by the notion that it can be performed as a mere duty. There are two possible attitudes in genuine worship: delight in God or repentance for the lack of it.(p. 50). As Christian hedonists we know that every listener longs for happiness. And we will never tell them to deny or repress that desire. Their problem is not that they want to be satisfied but that they are far too easily satisfied. We will instruct them how to glut their soul-hunger on the grace of God. We will paint God's glory in lavish reds and yellows and blues, and hell we will paint with smoky shadows of gray and charcoal. We will labor to wean them off the milk of the world onto the rich fare of God's grace and glory.(p. 52). there is one thing God loves to do more than bless the world. He loves to bless the world in answer to prayer. (p. 54). A pastor who feels competent in himself to produce eternal fruit—which is the only kind that matters—knows neither God nor himself. A pastor who does not know the rhythm of desperation and deliverance must have his sights only on what man can achieve. But brothers, the proper goals of the life of a pastor are unquestionably beyond our reach. The changes we long for in the hearts of our people can happen only by a sovereign work of grace.(p. 54). But brothers, the proper goals of the life of a pastor are unquestionably beyond our reach. The changes we long for in the hearts of our people can happen only by a sovereign work of grace.(p. 54). A cry for help from the heart of a childlike pastor is sweet praise in the ears of God. Nothing exalts Him more than the collapse of self-reliance which issues in passionate prayer for help.(p. 55). Those incessant knocks at our door, and perpetual visits from idle persons, are so many buckets of cold water thrown upon our devout zeal. We must by some means secure uninterrupted meditation, or we shall lose power. CHARLES SPURGEON The great threat to our prayer and our meditation on the Word of God is good ministry activity. JOHN PIPER(p. 59). The great pressure on us today is to be productive managers. But the need of the church is for prayerful, spiritual poets.(p. 66). Some of his recommended reading:Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections, or Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, or Sibbes’ Bruised Reed, or Baxter's Saints’ Everlasting Rest, or Boston's Fourfold State, or Burrough's Christian Contentment, or Ryle's Holiness, or Bridges’ Christian Ministry, or Brook's Precious Remedies, or Flavel's Method of Grace. John Piper, “Biblical Exegesis: Discovering the Original Meaning of Scriptural Texts”It is difficult to preach week in and week out over the whole range of God's revelation with depth and power if you are plagued with uncertainty when you venture beyond basic gospel generalities. (p. 82).We preach so that saints might persevere in faith to glory. We preach not only for their growth, but because if they don’t grow, they perish.(p. 112). When our people cast fear to the wind and spend themselves and risk their lives and fortune in the cause of God's truth, and in love for other people, then God is revealed for who He really is: infinitely valuable and satisfying—so much so that His people don’t need the fleeting pleasures of sin in order to be content. (p. 120).Genuine evangelical contrition—as opposed to legalistic, fearful sadness simply owing to threats—is a sorrow for not having holiness. (p. 123).The only true sorrow for not having holiness comes from a love for holiness, not just from a fear of the consequences of not having it. Or a more precise way to say it is this: true remorse over not having holiness is remorse over not enjoying God and living by the impulses of that joy. (p. 123). true evangelical contrition, true repentance, must be preceded by a falling in love with the all-satisfying God. (p. 124).On written prayers, emotion and spontaneity...genuine, heartfelt expression of our deepest emotions does not require spontaneity. (p. 147). we can no longer believe that unpondered prayers are more powerful or real or passionate or heartfelt or genuine or alive than prayers that are thoughtfully and earnestly (and painfully?) poured out through a carefully crafted form.(p. 147). legalism means treating Biblical standards of conduct as regulations to be kept by our own power in order to earn God's favor.(p. 153). The second meaning of legalism is this: the erecting of specific requirements of conduct beyond the teaching of Scripture and making adherence to them the means by which a person is qualified for membership in a local church.(p. 154).This one is slightly out of context. Soon after he argues against this idea in saying (There was no consensus in this country on the person-hood and rights of slaves.)One of the strongest arguments against legal enactments to protect the unborn is the claim that legal constraints without wide-spread social consensus is tyranny. (p. 228).the essence of worship is not external, localized acts, but an inner, Godward experience that shows itself externally not primarily in church services (though they are important) but primarily in daily expressions of allegiance to God. (pp. 232-233). It will transform your pastoral leadership in worship if you teach your people that the basic attitude of worship on Sunday morning is not to come with your hands full to give to God but with your hands empty to receive from God. And what you receive in worship is God, not entertainment. Teach them that they ought to come hungry for God. (pp. 238-239).Nothing makes God more supreme and more central than when a people are utterly persuaded that nothing—not money or prestige or leisure or family or job or health or sports or toys or friends—is going to bring satisfaction to their aching hearts besides God. This conviction breeds a people who passionately long for God on Sunday morning. They are not confused about why they are here. They do not see songs and prayers and sermons as mere traditions or mere duties. They see them as means of getting to God or God getting to them for more of His fullness. (p. 239). Nothing keeps God at the center of worship like the Biblical conviction that the essence of worship is deep, heartfelt satisfaction in Him and the conviction that the pursuit of that satisfaction is why we are together.(p. 240).

Ben Titsworth

Excellent!When asked what is your favorite book other than the bible? I will say, "Brothers, We Are Not Professionals". If you make this book the basis of how you walk out your pastoral ministry, be sure that you will coincidentally find that the word of God and life of Jesus Christ become everything to you, and can speak into every inch of life. John Piper, I honor you for deepening my joy in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Ian Hammond

Fantastic and inspiring! In this work, John Piper shares 30 short essays to powerfully exhort ministers to be radically biblical. Notably, these essays reflect principles that have marked Piper's preaching and writing ministry, such as: an explicit focus on the glory of God in a commitment to Christian hedonism, the sovereignty of God in suffering, and a passion for global missions. The chapters of this book are so insightful and yet very practical. He deals with hot-button issues in the reformed community (such as alcohol use, worship forms, and believers baptism) with an air of grace. He goes to the heart of ministry fighting legalism, and defending justification by faith alone coupled with a sacrificial-loving-obedience. He graciously calls for a gospel-centered fight for justice by assessing one's use of money, by encouraging pastors to fight for the unborn, and by ringing the alarm against racism. He raises the standard by highly valuing the original languages, expository preaching, and praying for seminaries. This book covers many, many areas: from marriage, to prayer, to apparent biblical contradictions, and humility... Every chapter is essential. Piper paints a wonderful picture of ministry.Highly recommended!

Nick Thies

Won a copy of the updated version. A call for people to step up and start doing more for Jesus. Excellent Read

Levi Booth

Though provoking and inspiring. My only beef with this book is that some of the later chapters don't really fit the topic or tone of the book. It feels as if they were thrown in to up the page count and/or allow Piper to vent a bit. But hey, it's his book!


Preaching Magazine states that this is one of “10 best books every preacher should read.” I agree completely. The first chapter sets the stage for the book and reading it is worth the price of the book. In the first chapter he says: “We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. . . . Professionalizm has nothing to do with the essence and heart of the Christian ministry. The more professional we long to be, the more spiritual death we will leave in our wake.” Piper is not suggesting that we should do ministry in a slipshod, sloppy, lazy, lackadaisical manner. He compels us to Christ-exalting excellence in our ministries. His reaction is to doing things in such a way that our ministries will be seen by people as “professionally attractive,” yet completely devoid of the power of the cross. I bump into pastors that focus on business models and professional models. While they profess to preach the Bible, the aim is on professional method, not the Spirit’s power.Among the other 35 chapters, he exhorts to Bible-Oriented, not entertainment oriented ministry, to show your people why God inspired hard texts, to read Christian biography, to sever the root of racism, to blow the trumpet for the unborn and so on. While pastors might disagree, any who read will be challenged to think biblically with reference to their ministries in these areas.One of the values is that in 36 short chapters, he presses on pastors all that he understands as important to biblical ministry. In some ways, it is a capsulation of all he believes and teaches about God, the bible, and ministry. Highly recommended for experienced and newer pastors, along with any layperson who takes Christian ministry seriously.

C Hughes

A must read for every Pastor, but especially for those who are young or in the early stages of ministry life. Piper will help to ensure that you keep the main thing, the main thing. This book deals with many practical Pastoral topics, and gives an easy to read summary of the biblical dealings with each. Having this book is like having Piper as a sort of mentor.


John Piper lays out his encouragement out to pastors as to some of the most important things that he thinks a pastor should do and stand for. This book really made me think sometimes, and sometimes just felt boring and political.First, the title of the book is where the book starts, but the book doesn't stay there. The premise of the book states that we are not just to do things the way that professionals do their jobs, but to live and work differently. The first few chapters challenged my thinking, encouraged me, and led me deeper as a leader.After the first few chapters, the truths get thinner and more focused and the chapters get wordier and longer. It felt like a labor to get to the end of this short book, especially on the more preachy and political subjects.In the midst of some of the challenges, though, God still used this book in my life. The book on studying the original Greek and Hebrew came to me right as I was up for preaching and helped lead me toward some incredible truths in the Word of God that I would've missed without this book pointing me toward it. So, thank you John Piper!I cannot give it 5 stars because the book is not well paced and loses a bit of direction. However, this is a good read, and my hope is that in the future, I can go through this book again, and that the Lord will use this book in my life again.


Purchased the revised and updated version by Baker publishing. This is essentially "Piper's Greatest Hits." There are 38 chapters that are all relatively short and each chapter covers an essential aspect of Piper's ministry, and specifically ordered to pastors. Want to read Piper but don't really know where to start? Read this book. The only downer was that I caught some pretty glaring typos a few times. Maybe trying to make a deadline proved difficult? Regardless, it's a minor quibble that can be fixed further on down the line. I am grateful for John Piper and his ministry, and thankful that he published this book for pastors and leaders alike.

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