Edwards on the Ministry (13)
And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. 2 Corinthians 12.15
What do we have to “spend” for the souls of those we serve? If we were speaking in terms of the materialist economy of the world, we might answer that in materialist terms – money and things. Be we live in the divine economy, and in that system, grace is the coin of the realm. God gives us grace so that we may invest it wisely unto thanks and praise to the Lord (2 Cor. 4.15). Grace is a divine disposition of favor, expressed in divine communication by His Word and Spirit, resulting in divine power for good works that lead to God being honored.
And as any pastor will tell you, this kind of investing is hard work. But it’s what we signed up for, right? Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Ministers should follow the example of Christ in his diligence and laboriousness in his work…So abundant was he in labours, that oftentimes he scarcely allowed himself time to eat or drink…That three years and a half of his public ministry was so filled with action and labour, that one of his disciples that constantly attended him, and was an eyewitness of his activity, tells us that if all he did should be written, the world could not contain the books. Ministers should follow the example of Christ, in his readiness not only to labour, but suffer, for the salvation of souls, to spend and be spent for them” (“Christ the Example of Ministers”).
It behooves us to keep a close watch on our work, whether we are working hard enough and smart enough according to what the Gospel of the Kingdom requires. Paul’s idea of “spending and being spent” clearly derives from his own knowledge of Christ, Who invested all His time and strength in bringing the Kingdom of God among men, and Who was spent through suffering and sacrifice for our salvation.
Good shepherds, Jesus explained, must be prepared to lay down their lives for their sheep. Spending and being spent.
Resources for Shepherds
Our book, Fan into Flame, provides an opportunity for shepherds to review all aspects of their work and take stock of their “spending habits.” Listen to an excerpt, check the table of contents, and order your free copy of Fan into Flame by clicking here. Or if you have multiple staff, order as many as you need.
Here are some additional resources to help you practice a consistent self-watch: “The Time of Your Life” – This worksheet will allow you to see where your time goes, and help you think about how to improve your time. Two more: “Self-Watch: Three ways to practice your self-watch.”; “Begin with Yourself.”
From the Celtic Revival
In our Tuesday and Thursday teaching letter, Crosfigell, we continue our devotional history of the Celtic Revival by looking at the role of monasteries and the men who built and led them in that great movement of God’s Spirit. Coemgen of Glendalough was renowned for his spiritual life – the place to begin in keeping watch over our souls and our work. Here are two brief excerpts:
Far from his friends was Coemgen
Steadfastly among the crags;
Nobly and alone he saw the order
Which was brought to the brink of the fair lough.
At night he would rise without fear
To perform his devotion in this fort;
There he would early recite his hours
(Standing) habitually in the lough up to his girdle.
- Life of Coemgen (II) (7th century) 
Deliver me, Jesus,
for I am your servant,
as you delivered Coemgen
from the falling mountain.
- Oengus mac Oengobann, The Martyrology of Oengus
You can read the commentary accompanying this excerpt by clicking here.
We’re happy to offer brief video excerpts from leaders of the Celtic Revival, focusing on the values we in The Fellowship have culled from their example. You can learn more about the values of holiness and calling by clicking here and here.
T. M. Moore
Cowper on Preaching
Our book, An Essay on Preaching, features excerpts from William Cowper’s The Task, in which the 19th century poet and hymn writer comments on the preaching of his day, and we tease it out to apply it to ours. A free copy awaits you by clicking here.
It is our privilege to provide resources and opportunities to equip and encourage church leaders in building the Lord’s Church and advancing His Kingdom. Please pray that God will move many of those we serve through this ministry to share with us financially in its support. If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal or Anedot, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Plummer, Lives of Irish Saints, p. 132.
 Carey, p. 227.