The Reformed Pastor (engelstalig)
Richard Baxter, Puritan author of "The Reformed Pastor", was famous for two things: being a tremendous pastor to a town in England, and getting constantly trouble for being so blunt that he would make enemies to his friends. This book is about being a tremendous pastor. It also goes straight to the point. "The Reformed Pastor" is actually an extended lecture that Baxter proposed to present to a local ministerial association in 1656. The book uses as its foundation and framework Acts 20:28: "therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
"The book first deals with pastors "taking heed" to their own spiritiual state and life, and then turns its attention to taking heed to all the flock. Baxter starts at the beginning, with making sure the reader is truly a christian, and progresses through disciplines, qualifications, and indwelling life. He expounds reasons such as how many eyes are on the man of God, how difficult the work is, and how the honor of Christ depends on it. He reminds his reader of many practical insights, such as "all that a minister does is a kind of preaching" and to avoid the error of men who "study hard to preach exactly, and study little or not all to live exactly".
After dealing with the pastor's personal life, Baxter tackles the pator's responsibility to shepherd his congregation. His most radical recommendation, radical back then and almost unthinkable to American churches today, is for a pastor to personally visit and catechize people (for those unfamiliair with the term, it means to teach a list of several hundred questions and answers of basic theology).
Specifically, he says a pastor should categize each and every family, in the pastor's entire town, each and every year. In Baxter's town that meant 2000 people in 800 families, that he and his associate pastor took two full days every week to go through the whole town every year. "The Reformed Pastor" is chock full with other helpful insights and wry comments, such as "All your teaching must be as plain and simple as possible." "Is it not a pity, then, that our hearts are not as orthodox as our heads?" "It is a contradiction in terms, to be a christian, and not humble." "We must study how to convince and get within me, and how to bring each truth to the quick." "In the name of God, brethren, labor to awaken your own hearts, before you go to the pulpit, that you may be fit to awaken the hearts of sinners."
And my list could go on and on and on. Many notable ministers-including Spurgeon, Packer, Dever, and others-felt that Baxter's book was essential stock of his ministry, his priorities, and his life before God, and to make him deeply consider about how best to "take heed over" himself and his flock.