I first read Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper in January of 2010 (yes, eight years after it had been published). And it was rich food for my soul and health to my bones. John Piper pleaded with pastors, who are constantly surrounded by leadership books and professional tips to better themselves, to stay true to the supernatural aspect of the ministry. We are not professionals in the sense of "education, a set of skills, and a set of guild-defined standards which are possible without faith in Jesus," writes Piper (x). He was faithful to this endeavor in 2002, and he added to that faithfulness with this updated and expanded edition.
Adding six new chapters to the 30 already fantastic ones of the first edition, these are nothing new if you've followed Pastor John over the years. Two of them were added (chaps. 4 & 6) to further clarify theological points he had previously made, namely on the subjects of God making much of us and God being the gospel (of which Piper has written a book about, published in 2005).
Chapters 13 & 18, which are new additions as well, are focused on being a better preacher in our modern age. Being a Bible-oriented preacher, not an entertainment-oriented preacher, is one of the best exhortations to pastors about being faithful to the Word of God, not giving in to the current trends and flippancy of the day. Chapter 18, subsequently, challenges pastors to pursue the tone of the text. By that he means "the feel that it has. The spirit it emits. The emotional quality. The affectional tenor. The mood" of the text (121). These are invaluable for any pastor, but especially us younger ones.
Another addition sprang from his eight-month leave of absence from Bethlehem Baptist Church where he didn't preach, didn't write, didn't blog or tweet, but just pursued his own sanctification in the midst of his family (chap. 22). There are some intimate moments shared here that he had yet to go through in the first publication, chronicling some of the besetting sins he had and how he put them to death. In this leave of absence, he did a lot of soul-searching and processing with his wife so he could grow in godliness.
And, finally, the last chapter he added to this book is about health, and about glorifying God with our body for the purpose of longevity (chap. 27). In it he talks about the need to eat well, exercise often, and rest on a consistent basis, sharing a lot of his own habits and how aging has affected him. Though this doesn't seem like it should be in a book of this caliber, Piper's exhortation is "not [for] your maximal physical health. Nor is it to help you find ways to get the best buzz for your brain. My aim is that you will find a way of life that enables you to use your mind and your five senses as effective partners in seeing the glory of God and that you be so satisfied in Him that you are willing to risk your health and your life to make Him known" (185). Though these are practical realities that every pastor must face (due to a more sedentary lifestyle), they are no less important in the overall pursuit to make much of God in one's life.
Though Piper has been in the ministry over 30 years, there is still a richness and a depth to his writing that moves me every time I read one of his books. And this one is no exception. His writing focuses me on the glory of God, saturates me with Scripture, increases my affections for Christ, and causes me to ruminate on every word he writes. He writes with love, humility, tenderness, and most of all, depth. Every word has been carefully chosen, placed on the page for the edification of our souls. And he is a man who thinks deeply, which, in turn, causes him to write with clarity. Investing in this new and updated version of Brothers, We Are Not Professionals is a worthwhile investment--one with, I'm sure, eternal significance.