Albert N. Martin
Reviewed by: Ryan M. McGraw
Date posted: 08/30/2015
You Lift Me Up: Overcoming Ministry Challenges, by Albert N. Martin. Mentor (Christian Focus Publications), 2013. Paperback, 143 pages, list price $16.99. Reviewed by OP pastor Ryan M. McGraw.
Who we are as Christians is the decisive factor in determining our usefulness to others as servants of Christ. Al Martin's You Lift Me Up shows how a conscientious and consistent application of the principles of Christian living is connected to perseverance and usefulness in the ministry. This is one of the best books that I have ever read on the Christian ministry. The reason for this is that it grounds an effective ministry in the general contours and disciplines of the Christian life. Martin shows that ineffectiveness and burnout in the ministry almost always stem from neglect of the basic components of godly living.
The title of this book is misleading. It might suggest that the author addresses depressed ministers or presents case studies of pastoral dilemmas. Instead, he treats the all-too-common problems of ministerial backsliding, burnout, and what he calls "washout." Martin addresses vital topics and common pitfalls, such as being distracted in our devotions, neglecting "generic Christian duties," maintaining a good conscience, isolating ourselves from the friendship of the congregation, becoming enslaved to people who are overly dependent on us, limiting our studies to sermon preparation, hiding our genuine humanity, obesity, and neglecting exercise and proper diet. This reviewer wishes that every chapter of this book and virtually every line of its pages could be burned into the hearts of every seminary student and minister of the gospel. Almost all of these areas are commonly neglected, and all of them are essential to a healthy Christian life, let alone an effective Christian ministry.
People often want to know how to be good spouses, godly parents, faithful students, diligent employees, and effective Christians in other roles. While it is useful to target all kinds of roles and apply the Word to them specifically, the secret of godly living lies in learning to apply one set of biblical principles to every area of life. A man's character in relation to the triune God determines how he will serve as a minister. This makes this book profitable to everyone, not only to ministers. This reviewer must say of You Lift Me Up, among modern works on pastoral theology, what David said of Goliath's sword: "There is none like it, give it to me." Read it and buy a copy for a friend in the ministry whom you care for and love dearly.