We Are Not Professionals
We Are Not Professionals

We Are Not Professionals

We Are Not Professionals

This week I went on an annual mountain biking trip in Bentonville, Arkansas with a few men from my days serving with FamilyLife. The idea for this trip started over twenty years ago when a guy shared with me the importance of building strong friendships with men who can encourage you and hold you accountable.

This time though I showed up a little early to spend some time in my second favorite bookstore (my fave is in Phoenix and still has no website). I love this place because it feels like it should be condemned by multiple fire and building codes. The aisles are so narrow you have to turn completely sideways to pass by other customers uncomfortably close.

Books are crammed everywhere, piled in stacks on the floors, jammed in any open space, and the shelving looks like it was recovered from a failed tree house. Occasionally a support board is added across shelves, but is nailed so awkwardly, you wonder if it will hold. They still “ring up” your books with a pencil and a sheet of paper; no computers or registers allowed. I love every second of being there.

The ambiance is a plus, but I really go there to find a hidden gem or two. And I found one this time. For years others have recommended Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper, but I’ve never picked it up until it appeared in the Christian stacks of this store. The title always sounded to me like the contents focused on scolding the reader for not being professional enough, for being too lazy or sloppy, or not doing things with excellence.

That’s why I was taken aback after reading the opening quote: “We [meaning, pastors, or Christians serving in some kind of ministry role] do not try to secure a professional lifestyle, but we are ready to hunger and thirst and be ill-clad and homeless.” The point of this book is the exact opposite of what I thought it was!

From there Piper lists a number of ways the Bible calls a Christian to be the opposite of what the world would call a “professional.” Here are a few:

  • Professionalism has nothing to do with the essence and heart of the Christian ministry…. For there is no professional childlikeness (Matthew 18:3).
  • Our goals are [offensive and] they are foolishness [to the world] (I Cor. 1:23).
  • Our business is to deny ourselves and take up the blood-spattered cross daily (Luke 9:23)… How do you carry a cross professionally?
  • We are fools for Christ’s sake, but professionals are wise.
  • We are weak, but professionals are strong.
  • Professionals are held in honor, we are in disrepute.
  • When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate (reconcile and forgive).
  • We are aliens and exiles in the world. Our citizenship is in heaven.

We try to do things with excellence at Valley View. We don’t ever want to excuse laziness or sloppiness. And yet we also never want to think it’s our ability to be polished and well put together or ‘professional’ that will transform the hearts of those who don’t know Christ. There is only one power that does that, and as Andrew pointed out Sunday, it is the power of the Holy Spirit stirring and awakening hearts to know and love Jesus.

May God grant us the wisdom and power to be childlike, broken, weak, forgiving, and ever aware of our eternal citizenship as we seek to reach all of Southwest Louisville with the gospel of Jesus Christ!

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