In modern Western culture reading feels like a form of relaxation rather than a form of work. Even if the book is demanding, and you need to make notes as you go along, you may find it easiest to sit in an armchair, perhaps with a cup of coffee, maybe with music in the background. How, you feel, can you possibly justifying spending hours of a working day in such a posture? Yet reading is a form of renunciation, almost a living embodiment of the call to faith over against works: you must renounce your strenuous efforts to justify your existence by the busy-busy lifestyle that pastors regularly fall into.
“Yet reading is a form of renunciation, almost a living embodiment of the call to faith over against works…”
I hope non-clergy readers will take it upon themselves to inquire sensitively about the pastor’s reading habits, and to find ways of adjusting church structures and expectations so that reading becomes priority. Congregations who do can expect, for a start, more interesting sermons; but that’s just the start. A pastor with a ready receptive mind, open to lifelong learning, will be a gift that keeps on giving to those in her or his care.
~ N. T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: Pastoral Letters