Every now and then I’m told that I am not like most youth pastors. I don’t take pride in this (often times, I don’t think its a good thing), but I am simply reporting a common observation. There are various reasons for this (e.g. my love for dead theologians, heavy theological books, or excruciatingly tedious organization), but one of the most commonly noticed traits of my youth-pastoring oddness is my seriousness. Don’t misunderstand, I know how to be goofy, how to joke around, and how to have fun (ask my students). But, in my preaching, teaching, and conversations others recognize a common thread of solemnity.
Instead of me explaining the reason for this seriousness, I think Ryle tells a story that does the job better than I could.
Matthew Henry tells a story of a great statesman in Queen Elizabeth’s time, who retired from public life in his latter days, and gave himself up to serious thought. His former merry companions came to visit him, and told him he was becoming melancholy.
“No,” he replied, “I am serious; for all are serious round about me.
God is serious in observing us,
Christ is serious in interceding for us,
the Spirit is serious in striving with us,
the truths of God are serious,
our spiritual enemies are serious in their endeavors to ruin us,
poor lost sinners are serious in hell,
and why then should not you and I be serious too?”
Taken from J.C. Ryle (2011-08-09). Thoughts for Young Men With Study Guide (p. 38). TheBiblePeople.com. Kindle Edition.
Don’t misunderstand, I love to have fun, to laugh, to joke, and to be goofy with my students and friends. I am not known solely as a solemn and stodgy curmudgeon. However, the weightiness of God’s glory, the supremacy of Jesus Christ, the powerful work of the Holy Spirit, the cross’s atoning power, and the looming reality of heaven and hell continues to sober my mind, focus my eyes, enliven my heart, and calculate my words.
Life. Death. Heaven. Hell.
These things are hard for me to take lightly and I don’t think I should.