Brothers, We Are Not Professionals

brosEarlier this summer I read this book for the first time:

John Piper. Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry. 2nd ed. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2013. 307 pp.


Here are the contents (I highlighted the chapters that are new to the second edition):




  1. This [new] professionalism is not learned in pursuing an MBA but in being in the know about the ever-changing entertainment and media world. This is the professionalization of ambience, and tone, and idiom, and timing, and banter. It is more intuitive and less taught. More style and less technique. (p. ix)
  2. The professionalization of the ministry is a constant threat to the offense of the gospel. (p. 3)
  3. [M]any people are willing to be God-centered as long as they feel that God is man-centered. (p. 6)
  4. We are human; Rover is a dog; the oak is a tree; Earth is a planet; the Milky Way is one of a billion galaxies; Gabriel is an angel; Satan is a demon. But only God is God. And therefore He is holy, utterly different, distinct, unique. (p. 11)
  5. Do you feel most loved by God because He makes much of you or because He frees you to enjoy making much of Him forever? (p. 15)
  6. What makes born-again people glad is not at bottom that they have God’s gifts but that they have God. (p. 18)
  7. [F]orgiveness and justification and eternal life are good for one ultimate reason—they bring us to God Himself. (p. 48)
  8. God cannot be served in any way that implies we are meeting His needs. (p. 56)
  9. Prayer is the coupling of primary and secondary causes. It is the splicing of our limp wire to the lightning bolt of heaven. (p. 68)
  10. I was amazed once to hear a seminary graduate say how adequate he felt for the ministry after his years of schooling. (p. 69)
  11. The great threat to our prayer and our meditation on the Word of God is good ministry activity. (p. 74)
  12. [W]hatever opposes prayer opposes the whole work of ministry. (p. 75)
  13. Without time of unhurried reading and reflection, beyond the press of sermon preparation, my soul shrinks, and the specter of ministerial death rises. (pp. 79–80)
  14. Your people will know if you are walking with the giants (as Warren Wiersbe says) or watching television. (p. 82)
  15. Earnestness is the demeanor that corresponds to the weight of the subject matter of preaching. The opposite of earnest is not joyful but trivial, flippant, frivolous, chipper. It is possible to be earnest and have elements of humor. But there is a vast difference between humor and levity—between robust laughter that grows up out of the realities of life and the silliness that constantly angles for a clever line and savvy turn of phrase. (p. 85)
  16. As far as I can remember in thirty-two years as a pastor, I have never told a joke in a sermon. (p. 86)
  17. Only when we are troubled and bothered do we think hard. . . . [W]e will never think hard about biblical truth until we are troubled by our faltering efforts to grasp its complexity. . . . [W]e must relentlessly query the text. . . . Asking questions is the key to understanding. (p. 93)
  18. [I]t is not irreverent to see difficulties in the biblical text and to think hard about how they can be resolved. (p. 95)
  19. Boring generalities are a curse in many pulpits. (p. 100)
  20. Another result when pastors do not study the Bible in Greek and Hebrew is that they, and their churches with them, tend to become second-handers. (p. 100)
  21. It is never too late to learn the languages [i.e., Hebrew and Greek]. There are men who began after retirement! It is not a question of time but of values. (p. 104)
  22. [L]egalism has brought more people to eternal ruin than alcohol has, though the devastations of alcohol are huge. (p. 178)
  23. For me, adequate sleep is not just a matter of staying healthy. It’s a matter of staying in the ministry.” (p. 189)
  24. God does not prosper a man’s business so that man can move from a Buick to a BMW. (p. 201)
  25. The evidence that many of our people are not rich toward God is how little they give and how much they own. (p. 202)
  26. [T]here are three levels of how to live with things: (1) you can steal to get, (2) or you can work to get, (3) or you can work to get in order to give. (p. 204)
  27. The problem is not with earning a lot. The problem is the constant accumulation of luxuries that are soon felt to be needs. (p. 205)
  28. “I am personally pro-life, but politically pro-choice”—Pontius Pilate. (p. 241)
  29. [T]he basic attitude of worship on Sunday morning is not to come with your hands full to give to God but with your hands empty to receive from God. And what you receive in worship is God, not entertainment. (p. 264)
  30. Oh, how crucial it is that pastors love their wives. It delights and encourages the church. It models marriage for the other couples. It upholds the honor of the office of elder. It blesses the pastor’s children with a haven of love. It displays the mystery of Christ’s love for the church. It prevents our prayers from being hindered. It eases the burdens of the ministry. It protects the church from devastating scandal. And it satisfies the soul as we find our joy in God by pursuing it in the joy of the beloved. This is not marginal, brothers. Loving our wives is essential for our ministry. It is ministry. (p. 270)
  31. [T]he deep and constant study of Scripture is the best way to become wise in dealing with people’s problems. (p. 287)

Updated on 10/17/2013: This book is now available for free as a PDF.


  1. says

    I haven’t read this book yet, it is on my short list to read though. I can say I know this book is going to be great and will savor it, for the mere Title of the book has inspired me each time I see it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *