Thielicke responds to Spurgeon’s insistence on the necessity for the farmer to sharpen his scythe (the need for Sabbath, for rest, for sabbatical, for vacation, for refreshment, as well as for preparation and, indirectly, training) with this:
Nor can the fisherman always be fishing; he must mend his nets. . . . Whereas Spurgeon enjoins us to remember that preachers must not think too highly of themselves as instruments but in faith accept that they are dispensable, we hound our young vicars – not everybody does this, I know, but many do! – chasing them from examinations into the bustling business of pastoral service in the big cities, from funerals to marriage, and from the pulpit to doorbell-ringing, opening the pores of the body of Christ to all the bacilli against which, after all, we should be mobilizing the antibiotic of our message of peace. We keep killing flowers in the bud, because we no longer let things grow because down underneath we have forgotten how to pray “Thy kingdom come,” and in its place have put our “manager’s faith,” our belief that everything can be produced and organized.
How true this is today. If you are in leadership in a church, what would be the most honest label for what you do? Spiritual leader? Or People Pleaser? Or Program Manager? Or Schedule Maintainer? Or, well, fill in the blank as you choose. Too easily the demands of ministry turn the spiritual into the stressed, the example into the bad example.
Health warning: what follows is likely to make you feel convicted and you may need to lie down. You may not be able to concentrate on other things for a few minutes, perhaps longer. You may need to kneel with the urge to pray, to confess, to repent.
We preach “Do not be anxious!” – and at the same time worry ourselves to death about whether everybody will he this. We say, “God reigns” – and still we run about madly keeping the ecclesiastical machinery going. We proclaim man’s passive righteousness (the righteousness that comes from God)- and still we behave like activists. We preach eternity; but when Jesus asks us, “Did you have enough of everything?” we will have to reply, “Oh, no; we didn’t have enough time.” This is why we preach peace and radiate restlessness. This is why we give stones instead of bread, and men do not believe us. The faith is refuted by the incredulity of those who proclaim it. (p.12)